White House lawyers Patrick Philbin, Jay Sekulow, and Pat Cipollone wrapped up the president's defense this afternoon on Capitol Hill, arguing that President Donald Trump's actions were not enough to trigger impeachment, even if proven true.
Philbin, who opened up today's session, echoed other defense lawyers who have described the Democrats as trying to read the president's mind to assume malintent. He also accused Democrats of treating a disagreement between the president and officials as an impeachable offense.
The president's legal team has argued that a quid pro quo on foreign aid to investigate a political rival is not impeachable. Philbin and Jay Sekulow, who spoke second, seemed wholly in sync with attorney Alan Dershowitz's argument last night that the articles, as written, are not enough to remove the president.
"To have a removal of a president based on a policy dispute? That's not what the framers intended," Sekulow said. He continued to warn Senators of the "danger, danger, danger" of lowering the bar of impeachment.
He also mentioned Bolton for only the second time, echoing Dershowitz's argument that even if reports that Bolton can link the president to quid pro quo are true, it doesn't prove anything.
Tensions are rising over whether the Senate should hear the testimony of Bolton, who reportedly wrote in a manuscript that Trump directly tied the holdup of nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine to investigations into the Bidens.
GOP Senators are expected to meet after today's conclusion, as reports of more Republican defections in favor of witness testimony circulate. When Sekulow took a swipe at Democrats, implying some of them would rather be out campaigning just days before the Iowa caucus, Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota merely looked annoyed.
In a moment of levity, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who says he would like to hear from ex-National Security Advisor John Bolton, brought a bottle of chocolate milk into today's session (as milk and water are the only drinks allowed in Senate during the impeachment trial). Romney appeared to be chided by an aide, left, and then came back in with the chocolate milk poured into a glass.
Republican lawyers wrapped up their final day of defense in the early afternoon, leaving senators with a long afternoon off before the trial resumes Wednesday with 16 hours of contentious questioning expected, including the key debate on witness testimony. Senators Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizbeth Warren of Massachusetts left the building quickly and reportedly plan to campaign this afternoon.