Susan Collins could be ‘hoodwinked’ by the ‘squishy thinking’ of Trump’s impeachment defense: ex-DOJ official
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Image via screengrab.

There are three Republican senators who may be "hoodwinked" by a Trump defense that is "a lousy argument dressed up in plausible legalese" a former top Department of Justice official explained in a Washington Post column.

Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman analyzed the first question asked on Wednesday, which was a joint question asked by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The three wondered if Trump “had more than one motive for his alleged conduct, such as the pursuit of personal political advantage, rooting out corruption and the promotion of national interests?”

Litman said defense lawyer Patrick Philbin "was ready for the gopher pitch."

"It was a key moment: If it’s really true that a mixed motive can’t be the basis for removal, then the senators need only conclude that Trump had, somewhere in his mind, some public interest, perhaps ferreting out corruption generally or forcing other countries to share in the costs of NATO, to justify a vote for acquittal," Litman explained.

"Collins and Co. could, by extension, argue that no amount of evidence from the John Boltons and Mick Mulvaneys of the world could alter the supposition that Trump had at least one appropriate motive somewhere in the many chambers of his mind," he noted.

Litman didn't buy the argument.

"It requires only brief reflection to see that the position is akin to insulating from any constitutional remedy the most vile and abusive presidential conduct. For it will routinely be the case that a president, even in the middle of some desperate or foolish act of law breaking, might also have some more benign motive somewhere in mind," he explained. "This kind of squishy thinking would not fly in a real court."

"If Republican senators are persuaded by the mixed-motive argument and use it as a basis for voting against witnesses, they will have been hoodwinked, and perhaps willingly," Litman warned.