Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) on Friday firmly defended some of President Trump’s actions involving Ukraine that are now at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.
Asked about a partial transcript of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky, Arrington said on Hill.TV’s “Rising” that he felt the contents of the conversation were “appropriate.”
“I think it was appropriate. I would go beyond appropriate,” Arrington said. “I commend him for being a fiduciary and actually caring about how much we pay to support our allies relative to others.”
The GOP lawmaker was referring to Trump’s argument that he held up nearly $400 million in congressionally approved military aid for Ukraine in order to push other European countries to contribute to the cause.
House Democrats, however, have been probing whether Trump tied the release of the aid to Ukraine’s willingness to launch investigations sought by Trump involving the 2016 election and former Vice President Joe Biden, a top political rival running for president.
Arrington went on to argue on Friday that Trump’s conduct in the July 25 call stemmed from his efforts to ensure that controls were in place to prevent any corruption or graft from Ukraine when it came to the military aid it was set to receive.
“You can’t give these countries money, specifically Ukraine, because of their history of corruption, without insuring that they have controls in place, they’ve got accountability measures in place, and that they’re doing everything they can to root out graft and corruption,” he said. “Again, that was the whole premise of the conversation.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in late September launched a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump following revelations that he pressured the Ukrainian government to launch the investigation into Biden and his son over unfounded allegations of corruption.
The inquiry is centered around a government whistleblower complaint that is largely based on the July 25 phone call in which Trump urged Zelensky to open a probe into the Biden family. A rough transcript of the call released by the White House showed Trump repeatedly asking for the probe and urging Ukraine to work with his personal attorney on the matter.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a White House expert on Ukraine, testified behind closed doors earlier this week that he believed that a quid pro quo had been established for the aid by mid-July, according to CNN.
Trump has dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing, and has repeatedly described his call with Zelensky as “perfect.”