GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote

A group of nine Republican senators discussed the ongoing impeachment proceedings with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' 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 BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' 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 HawleyHawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Biden calls for revoking key online legal protection House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate 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 BarrassoSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Green groups raise alarms about alleged Pentagon incineration of 'forever chemicals' House passes sweeping bill to target spread of toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Wyo.), Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senator: 2020 candidates must recuse themselves from impeachment trial Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles MORE (R-Tenn.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonHillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash Cotton introduces bill blocking intel sharing with countries relying on Huawei for 5G GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles 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 WickerLawmakers introduce bill to bolster artificial intelligence, quantum computing Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE Hillicon Valley: House panel unveils draft of privacy bill | Senate committee approves bill to sanction Russia | Dems ask HUD to review use of facial recognition | Uber settles sexual harassment charges for .4M MORE (R-Miss.) and John CornynJohn CornynSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' MORE (R-TX).

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.