Trump blames Energy Secretary Rick Perry for Ukraine call at center of impeachment inquiry – NBC News

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told House Republicans Friday that he was urged by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to make the midsummer phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is now at the center of House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Trump suggested it was a call he didn’t even want to make, the sources said.

The news was first reported by Axios.

Department of Energy Press Secretary Shaylyn Hynes told NBC News late Saturday that “Secretary Perry absolutely supported and encouraged the President to speak to the new President of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development.”

“He continues to believe that there is significant need for improved regional energy security — which additional options for natural gas supply will provide — and this is exactly why he is heading to Lithuania tonight to meet with nearly two dozen European energy leaders (including Ukraine) on these issues.”

Perry is reportedly set to resign from his position as energy secretary in November.

Full coverage: Trump impeachment inquiry

The July 25 phone call led a U.S. intelligence official to file a whistleblower complaint that set off a cascade of fast-moving events, ultimately leading to an impeachment inquiry into the president.

Trump has publicly maintained that the call was “absolutely perfect” and “totally appropriate.”

Trump’s suggestion that Perry may have been to blame for the call came as the president’s allies tried to convince him to implement a strategy for countering the impeachment inquiry that’s engulfing his White House and some of the top members of his Cabinet.

White House officials have been scrambling to come up with a political strategy that allows for a president who at any moment could undermine or overrule that plan without warning or consultation, according to administration officials and White House allies.

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