GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote

A group of nine Republican senators discussed the ongoing impeachment proceedings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE at the White House Thursday, shortly after the House passed a resolution laying out the rules for the impeachment inquiry.

Trump reiterated some of the same points he's made publicly in recent days to defend himself from the House probe, according to senators who were present.

He urged GOP senators to read the recreated transcript the White House released of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which spurred the House to take action.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump has argued in recent weeks that the transcript shows the call was innocent and there was no effort to propose a quid pro quo in exchange for Zelensky agreeing to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE.

It’s the second time in two weeks Trump has summoned a group of Republican senators to the White House for a private discussion in an apparent effort to keep his relations with the Senate GOP conference strong. The upper chamber could try him for articles of impeachment early next year.

Trump characterized the meeting to senators as a chance to “talk to folks, hear what’s on people’s minds,” according to a senator who attended.

“We discussed a variety of topics, including impeachment,” said Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Mo.), who attended the meeting.

Asked about Trump’s specific message on impeachment, Hawley said he repeated “everything that he said in public.”

“Read the transcript. That’s what he said,” Hawley added, describing the president as “upbeat” and “positive.”

Trump expressed confidence that the recreated transcript would clear him of allegations of wrongdoing and indicated that he felt justified by making it public.

“He said a number of times he was really glad there was a transcript and that he was really glad he released it,” Hawley said.

The senators did not discuss with Trump the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who told House investigators earlier this week that the White House edited the transcript of the Zelensky call to remove explicit references to Biden and Burisma Holdings, which paid Biden’s son tens of thousands of dollars to serve on its board.

Asked if Trump feels Republicans are doing enough to defend him, the GOP senator said the topic did not come up.

Instead, the president mentioned the two House Democrats who voted against the resolution: Reps. Collin PetersonCollin Clark PetersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems to lay out impeachment case to senators next week House delivers impeachment articles to Senate Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall MORE (D-Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.).

The meeting's attendees were: Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump's latest water policy exposes sharp divides Former NYT correspondent rips Democrats' 'selective use' of constitutional violations What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Wyo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnMarsha Blackburn shares what book she's reading during Trump Senate trial Taylor Swift talks politics, her new song: 'I wrote it after the midterm elections' GOP senator: 2020 candidates must recuse themselves from impeachment trial MORE (R-Tenn.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senator provides fidget spinners to Senate colleagues at lunch Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Senators opt to drink milk on Senate floor during impeachment trial MORE (R-Ark.), Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerHillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — UN calls for probe into alleged Saudi hack of Bezos | Experts see effort to 'silence' Washington Post | Bezos tweets tribute to Khashoggi Senators fret over lack of manpower to build 5G Lawmakers introduce bill to bolster artificial intelligence, quantum computing MORE (R-Miss.) and John CornynJohn CornynNadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Democrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public MORE (R-TX).

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.