Political News

Here's how Republicans are defending Trump ahead of this week's impeachment hearings

Posted November 18, 2019 9:59 a.m. EST

— As House Democrats enter the second week of the public chapter of their impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, both Republicans and the President have begun dishing out new defenses of him as witnesses continue to provide damaging testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

This week, eight witnesses are set to appear before the panel, including on Tuesday Jennifer Williams, who serves as an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Kurt Volker, the former US special envoy to Ukraine. On Wednesday, the panel is set to question three witnesses, including US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and David Hale, the under secretary of state for political affairs.

Here are some of the latest defenses from Republicans:

Trump

The President lashed out at Williams in a Sunday tweet, resurfacing an unfounded accusation he has raised against other officials who have testified in the probe by characterizing Williams as a "Never Trumper" and associating her with other "Never Trumpers."

Tweeting a day after Williams' earlier, closed-door testimony was released, Trump urged Williams to "read BOTH transcripts of the presidential calls."

Sen. Ron Johnson

The Wisconsin Republican told NBC's Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" that the Trump administration officials who provided the whistleblower with the information presented in their complaint "exposed things that didn't need to be exposed."

"This would have been far better off if we would've just taken care of this behind the scenes," Johnson said on Sunday. "This never would've been exposed, that funding would've been restored and our relationship with Ukraine would've been far better off than it is today ... I'm sympathetic with President Trump as he's been tormented (since) the day after the election."

Rep. Jim Jordan

Jordan, an Ohio Republican and one of Trump's most steadfast defenders in Congress, told CBS' Margaret Brennan on "Face the Nation" that "most importantly, the Ukrainians did nothing, as far as investigations go, to get the (military) aid released."

"So there was never this quid pro quo that the Democrats all promise existed before President Trump released the phone call (transcript)," he said.

Rep. Steve Scalise

Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, similarly argued that "the real bottom line is ... Ukraine got the money."

"The President's defense is that those things didn't happen," he told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," referring to the investigations Trump wanted the Ukraine's President to launch. "It's not just the President's word. President (Volodymyr) Zelensky himself that the aid wasn't conditioned and there was no pressure."

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