President Donald Trump says he is considering reading the transcript of his summer telephone call with the president of Ukraine on live television to illustrate directly to the American people that no wrongdoing was discussed between the two world leaders.
“This is over a phone call that is a good call,” the president told the Washington Examiner. “At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call.”
President Trump also reiterated to the publication that he has no plans to cooperate with the House Democrats’ partisan impeachment investigation, stating the closed-door proceedings “are setting a terrible precedent for other presidents.”
“Everybody knows I did nothing wrong,” he added. “Bill Clinton did things wrong; Richard Nixon did things wrong. I won’t go back to [Andrew] Johnson because that was a little before my time,” he said. “But they did things wrong. I did nothing wrong.”
Although some witnesses — such as Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and diplomat Bill Taylor — have expressed concerns about the July 25th call, other officials have said they believe no wrongdoing occurred during the conversation, which included a suggestion by President Trump for Zelensky to examine allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. House Democrats claim the president appears to have attempted to exchange $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine for a probe into the Biden family, a charge both world leaders vehemently deny.
On Thursday, former senior White House official Tim Morrison reportedly testified to congressional investigators that he was not concerned any illegal activities occurred during the call.
“I want to be clear, I was not concerned that anything illegal was discussed,” Morrison, who resigned Wednesday as former National Security Council’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs, told lawmakers, according to The Federalist.
The publication also reported Morrison told lawmakers that Ukrainian officials were unaware that the Trump administration had delayed U.S. military aid to the eastern European country until the end of August 2019 — roughly one month after President Trump’s conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I have no reason to believe the Ukrainians had any knowledge of the [military funding] review until August 28, 2019,” Morrison continued.
“I am pleased our process gave the president the confidence he needed to approve the release of the security sector assistance,” he added. “I am proud of what I have been able, in some small way, to help the Trump administration accomplish.”
President Trump’s comments were published just hours after the House approved a resolution that formally authorizes the impeachment investigation.
The lower chamber voted 232-196 in favor of House Resolution 660. The vote split mostly down party lines, with four members abstaining. No Republican voted for the resolution and two Democrats — Reps. Collin Peterson (MN) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ) — voted against the resolution. One independent lawmaker, former Republican Justin Amash (MI), backed the measure.
Among other things, the measure directs “certain committees to continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, president of the United States of America, and for other purposes.”
The resolution also enables Republicans to request witnesses and documents, authorize committees to release interview transcripts and outline public hearings. It also allows Trump and White House counsel to attend hearings, question witnesses and recommend additional testimony and evidence.
However, the resolution includes a “loophole” that would give Democrats on the Judiciary Committee the power to reject witnesses requested by the White House. “Under the House Judiciary procedures, Trump and his counsel will be invited to attend all panel proceedings and ask questions. They can also request additional evidence or witness testimony, but the ‘committee shall determine whether the suggested evidence is necessary or desirable,’” notes Roll Call.
Asked about the provision, Nadler told the publication that the rule is a “precaution,” before adding, “I hope we don’t need to use it.”