Impeachment trial: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema asks about private citizens conducting unsanctioned foreign policy

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Thursday asked her second question in?the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, inquiring?if the president could assure Americans that private citizens would not be directed to conduct U.S.?foreign policy or national security policy unless sanctioned by the president and the State Department.

a person wearing glasses: U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks during an event hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry on May 17, 2019, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. © Sean Logan/The Republic U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema speaks during an event hosted by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry on May 17, 2019, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

The question appeared to be in reference to Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney who is a central figure?in Trump's?effort to pressure?Ukraine to announce investigations into Trump's 2020 political rival Joe Biden.

Sinema, a moderate Arizona Democrat, asked the question on behalf of herself, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.,?Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

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It was the first bipartisan question posed throughout two days of questioning.

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Sinema spoke for the senators.?The question was directed to the president's defense team.

Patrick?Philbin, deputy counsel to the president, said he assumed the question was in reference to Guiliani.

"I just want to make clear that there was no conduct of foreign policy being carried on here by a private person," he said.

Philbin noted that Kurt Volker, the administration's former?special envoy to Ukraine, only understood Guiliani to be acting as a conduit of information to Trump.

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It was?Andrey Yermak, an adviser to Ukranian President?Volodymyr Zelensky, who asked to be connected to Guiliani, Philbin said.

That connection would ultimately lead to the July 25 phone call?in which?Trump?asked Zelensky announce to announce investigations of?Biden and his son, Hunter, on charges of corruption.

The president was impeached by the House in December of?abuse?of power and?obstruction?of Congress.

Trump's defense has asserted Trump didn't necessarily call for an inquiry into the Bidens, but the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor, and a theory that Democrats colluded with Ukraine?in the 2016 election and Ukraine had a related server.?

Philbin?said previous presidents, starting with George Washington, relied on confidants outside of the government to assist in foreign diplomacy.

"There would not be anything improper for a president, in some circumstances, to rely on a personal confidant to be able to convey messages and to receive messages back and forth from a foreign government that would relate to the president's conduct of foreign affairs," Philbin said. "That's not prohibited, but within his authority under the Constitution under Article 2."

The question suggests Sinema and the other senators?have concerns about?future efforts to freelance?the nation's diplomacy outside of the legal framework.

On Thursday evening, she joined fellow swing Democrats Manchin and Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama to ask if House managers should have engaged in a formal accommodations?process with the Trump administration?to negotiate for documents and witnesses. The question was directed to House managers.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the House Intelligence Committee chairman and House impeachment manager, said the administration had no desire for any accommodation.

The senators also asked:?"... What duty, if?any, does the Senate owe to the American public to ensure that all relevant facts are made known in this trial and not at some point in the future?"

Sinema remains silent about how she views the impeachment case against Trump.

Have news to share about Arizona's U.S. senators or national politics??Reach the reporter on Twitter and Facebook. Contact her at [email protected] and 602-444-4712.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Impeachment trial: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema asks about private citizens conducting unsanctioned foreign policy

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