Collins, Murkowski, Romney get first GOP impeachment question

A crucial group of Republican senators got the first question as the Senate dove into a mammoth question-and-answer session in the impeachment trial of President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE.

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSchumer urges GOP to ignore Trump: He's 'rooting for failure' Trump pressures McConnell, GOP to ditch bipartisan talks until they have majority Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal MORE (R-Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiWhy Biden's Interior Department isn't shutting down oil and gas Biden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE (R-Alaska) and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneySenators scramble to save infrastructure deal Schumer urges GOP to ignore Trump: He's 'rooting for failure' Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds MORE (R-Utah) joined forces to ask the first question, with Collins writing it for the group.

"If the president 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, how should the Senate consider more than one motive in its assessment of Article One," Supreme Court Justice John Roberts said, reading the question from the trio.

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The first article of impeachment passed by the House accuses Trump of abusing his power.

The decision for Republicans to give their first question to the three senators quickly caught attention around the Capitol.

The three GOP senators are viewed as crucial swing votes on the decision of whether to call new witnesses. That vote is expected on Friday, and GOP senators are increasingly optimistic they will be able to block the push for new witnesses.

They have also not said how they will vote on the final votes on convicting or acquitting Trump.

Trump's legal team responded that if senators believe Trump had more than one motive "it's clear that their case fails."

"Once you're into mixed motive land, it's clear that their case fails. There can't possibly be an impeachable offense at all," said Patrick Philbin, a lawyer on Trump's team. 

"All elected officials, to some extent, have in mind how their conduct, how their decisions, their policy decision will affect the next election," he continued.