Bipartisan Question Leads To ‘Startling Admission’ From Trump’s Legal Team

on February 15, 2018 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) (3rd L) speaks as (L-R) Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) listen during a news conference February 15, 2... WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 15: U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) (3rd L) speaks as (L-R) Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) listen during a news conference February 15, 2018 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. The so-called ÔCommon Sense CoalitionÕ that is working on immigration legislation held a news conference to discuss the upcoming votes on immigration. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS

A bipartisan question from the senators prompted a major admission from President Trump’s legal team Thursday: Rudy Giuliani was not conducting foreign policy in his capacity as the President’s private attorney.

The question was posed by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and joined by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). 

“Will the President assure the American public that private citizens will not be directed to conduct American foreign policy or national security policy unless they have been specifically and formally designated by the President and the State Department to do so?” the senators asked Trump’s legal team.

Patrick Philbin, the deputy White House counsel, responded that “there was no conduct of foreign policy being carried on here by a private person.”

“Ambassador Volker was clear that he understood Mr. Giuliani just to be a source of information for the president,” Philbin said. “And someone who knew about Ukraine and someone who spoke to the President.”

Philbin added that although he’s “not in a position to make pledges for the President here,” the President’s “policy is always to abide by the laws.” Philbin then went on a tangent about how former Presidents George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and “a list of others mentioned in some of the testimony during the House proceedings” have “relied on persons who are their trusted confidants” to conduct foreign policy.

Watch Philbin’s remarks below:

House impeachment manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) picked up on Philbin’s “breathtaking admission.”

“What President’s counsel said was that no foreign policy was being conducted by a private party here. That is, Rudy Giuliani was not conducting U.S. foreign policy. Rudy Giuliani was not conducting policy,” Schiff said. “That is a remarkable admission, because to the degree they have attempted to suggest or claim or insinuate that this is a policy difference, that a concern over burden sharing or something corruption was a policy issue, they have now acknowledged the person in charge of this was not conducting policy. That is a startling admission.”

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