House GOP lawmaker: Trump conversation with Ukraine leader 'not OK'

Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on Thursday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE's conversation with Ukraine's leader, during which Trump urged him to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenNew York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Graham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Booker leads other 2020 Dems in petition urging DNC to change debate qualifications MORE, was "not OK."

Turner openly criticized Trump as he began his questioning of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire at a House Intelligence Committee hearing concerning a whistleblower complaint about Trump's July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
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"I've read the complaint and I've read the transcript of the conversation with the president and the president of the Ukraine. Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president: This is not OK. That conversation is not OK. And I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript," Turner said.

Shortly before the start of Thursday's hearing, the Intelligence Committee released a declassified version of the whistleblower complaint detailing Trump's interactions with Ukraine's president.
 
The complainant said "multiple White House officials with direct knowledge" described details of the phone call with Zelensky, including that "the president used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests. Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the president’s 2020 reelection bid."

The complaint also said that White House officials were "deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call."

Trump has acknowledged that he raised investigating whether Biden was involved in pressuring a Ukrainian prosecutor to drop an investigation of an energy company of which Biden's son Hunter was a board member. Biden has denied completely the allegations pushed by Trump and Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGraham invites Giuliani to testify about recent Ukraine trip Judge orders State Dept. to search for and provide more Ukraine docs DOJ releases memos backing Trump immunity claims ahead of impeachment vote MORE, the president's personal lawyer.

Trump has denied that he withheld military aid to Ukraine as leverage in pressing for an investigation of the Bidens.

A partial transcript of the phone call released by the White House on Wednesday shows that Trump brought up Biden and said that he would have Giuliani and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrJudge rejects DOJ effort to delay House lawsuit against Barr, Ross Holder rips into William Barr: 'He is unfit to lead the Justice Department' Five takeaways on Horowitz's testimony on Capitol Hill MORE call the Ukrainian leader and "get to the bottom of it."

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me," Trump said, according to the memo.
 
GOP lawmakers have largely stood by Trump and dismissed Democrats' calls for impeachment in the wake of the whistleblower complaint.

But a handful have expressed concern with the allegations, including Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdSunday Talk Shows: Lawmakers look ahead to House vote on articles of impeachment, Senate trial Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses two Texas Democrats Group of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' MORE (R-Texas), another member of the Intelligence Committee.

"There is a lot in the whistleblower complaint that is concerning. We need to fully investigate all of the allegations addressed in the letter, and the first step is to talk to the whistleblower," Hurd, a former CIA officer who is not seeking reelection, tweeted at the start of Thursday's hearing.
 
Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSenators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report Live coverage: DOJ inspector general testifies on Capitol Hill FCC votes to bar use of its funds to purchase Huawei, ZTE equipment MORE (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that “Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons to say there’s no there there when there’s obviously lots that’s very troubling there."