GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote

A group of nine Republican senators discussed the ongoing impeachment proceedings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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.


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 BidenBudget official says he didn't know why military aid was delayed: report Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide READ: Foreign service officer Jennifer Williams' closed-door testimony from the House impeachment inquiry 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 HawleyTrump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition GOP senator wants to know whistleblower identity if there's an impeachment trial Hillicon Valley: California AG reveals Facebook investigation | McConnell criticizes Twitter's political ad ban | Lawmakers raise concerns over Google takeover of Fitbit | Dem pushes FCC to secure 5G networks 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 PetersonHow centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment GOP lawmaker says House impeachment rules vote 'doesn't change anything for me' Majority of Americans see impeachment inquiry as fair: poll MORE (D-Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.).

The meeting's attendees were: Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoCentrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote MORE (R-Wyo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed MORE (R-Tenn.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonTom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Schumer concerned by Army's use of TikTok, other Chinese social media platforms Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising 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 WickerMicrosoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate Trump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Pay America's Coast Guard MORE (R-Miss.) and John CornynJohn CornynGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Overnight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban MORE (R-TX).

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.