GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote

A group of nine Republican senators discussed the ongoing impeachment proceedings with President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 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 BidenFive examples of media's sycophancy for Biden on inauguration week Drastic measures for drastic times — caregiver need mobile health apps Boycott sham impeachment 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 DHS chief argues for swift confirmation of Biden pick amid Hawley hold Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot 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 PetersonOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump admin to sell oil leases at Arctic wildlife refuge before Biden takes office |Trump administration approves controversial oil testing method in Gulf of Mexico | Rep. Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel Rep. David Scott wins House Agriculture Committee gavel MORE (D-Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.).

The meeting's attendees were: Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden EPA asks Justice Dept. to pause defense of Trump-era rules | Company appeals rejection of Pebble Mine | Energy pick Granholm to get hearing Wednesday Nomination hearing for Biden Energy pick Granholm set for Wednesday Trump impeachment article being sent to Senate Monday MORE (R-Wyo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Colbert asks Republicans 'have you had enough?' in live show after Capitol violence MORE (R-Tenn.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonGOP senator: Impeachment a 'moot point' after Trump's exit Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (R-Ark.), Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.), Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerSenators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department Wall Street Journal: GOP Electoral College 'stunt' will hurt US, Republican Party Bipartisan group of senators: The election is over MORE (R-Miss.) and John CornynJohn CornynThe Memo: Biden gambles that he can do it all Trump impeachment trial to begin week of Feb. 8 Limbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration MORE (R-TX).

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.