Trump dumps Ukraine call on Rick Perry – Washington Examiner
President Trump told Republicans that Energy Secretary Rick Perry encouraged him to have the phone call with Ukraine’s president that flung his presidency into chaos.
During a conference call with GOP lawmakers in the House on Friday, Trump claimed he did not even want to have the July 25 conversation in which he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals. A clash over a U.S. intelligence official’s whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about this phone call paved the way for House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry.
“Not a lot of people know this, but I didn’t even want to make the call. The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about an LNG [liquified natural gas] plant,” Trump said, according to the recollection of one source who spoke to Axios and was affirmed by two others.
Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman to Perry, confirmed that Perry urged Trump to speak with Zelensky.
“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,” Hynes said. “He continues to believe that there is significant need for improved regional energy security — which is exactly why he is heading to Lithuania tonight to meet with nearly 2 dozen European energy leaders (including Ukraine) on these issues.”
In his phone call with House Republicans, which comes at a time when some Republicans are starting to break ranks with the president, Trump also assured them, “More of this will be coming out in the next few days.”
On Saturday, Politico reported that Perry pressed Zelensky to fight corruption in Ukraine and make changes to state-run oil and gas company Naftogaz. This is similar to Trump’s defense of his “perfect” call with Zelensky against allegations of 2020 election interference, claiming he pressed for an inquiry into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was employed by natural gas company Burisma Holdings when the elder Biden was vice president, because he has an “obligation to look at corruption.” Trump openly encouraged Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens on Thursday.
On Friday, the prosecutor general of Ukraine said that his office would review all the cases that were shut down by his predecessors, including a number of cases that mention Ukrainian businessman Mykola Zlochevsky, the founder of Burisma.
According to notes released by the White House, Zelensky talked to Trump about buying U.S. oil and “cooperating on energy independence” with the United States but did not mention Perry or LNG.
Perry, a former Texas governor who briefly ran against Trump for the GOP nomination in the 2016 election, is planning to resign in the coming months before the 2020 election campaign heats up, sources told the Washington Examiner last week.
He led the U.S. delegation to Ukraine in May for Zelensky’s inauguration, replacing Vice President Mike Pence, and has been asked by Democrats to provide information about his work related to Ukraine. Perry is one of the “three amigos” on Ukrainian policy, along with Kurt Volker, who recently resigned as a U.S. special envoy for the Ukraine conflict, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, as described by Sondland himself. Volker and Sondland are two of the U.S. diplomats whose text messages were released last week by House Democrats showing discussions about how Trump would not meet Zelensky unless his country engaged in investigations into Trump’s political foes.