GOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine

Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are expressing concerns about shadow diplomacy work by President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges Key takeaways from first public impeachment hearing Diplomat ties Trump closer to Ukraine furor MORE in Ukraine.

Even as conservative Republicans are making public shows of their defense of the president, calling the impeachment inquiry unfair and storming the committee hearing room Wednesday, members of the committee tasked with oversight on foreign affairs are skeptical of the former New York City mayor’s involvement in overseas policy.

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Some say it's not completely abnormal for diplomacy to go through back channels, but they said it should not be the norm. And several said it generally shouldn't be done.

“I’m OK with that as long as they play within the confines of the law and don’t go beyond that,” Rep. Ted YohoTheodore (Ted) Scott YohoGOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine CNN slams GOP for not appearing on network after mass shootings, conservatives fire back Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess MORE (R-Fla.) said. “Blanket OK — no. In certain areas, yes.”

Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah) called it “bad form” for outside officials to be tasked with foreign policy.

“My point is — this is not the first time this has been done,” he said. “Everything from former secretaries of State being involved with foreign policy to basketball players being involved with foreign policy, and I would say that I think all of those are in bad form.”

The criticisms show that even in the House, where GOP support for Trump in the impeachment inquiry is strong, some Republicans at a minimum are unnerved with actions by Giuliani and shadow efforts in general.

These criticisms are echoed in testimony in the impeachment inquiry, with witnesses saying former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonAre Democrats building a collapsible impeachment? Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE called Giuliani a “hand grenade” and described his involvement in a diplomatic side channel as a “drug deal.”

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoProtests serve as backdrop to Erdoğan's visit to White House Chris Wallace: Taylor testimony 'very damaging to President Trump' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democrats open televised impeachment hearings MORE on Sunday defended Giuliani’s role, however.

In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” he said it was “completely appropriate” and that “private citizens are often part of executing American foreign policy.”

Republican strategist Rick Wilson, a frequent critic of Trump’s on cable news, said House GOP members are caught in a dilemma. They risk incurring Trump’s wrath if they refuse to toe the president’s line, but they also don’t want to endorse activities they see as wrong — especially with polls showing growing support for the impeachment inquiry, especially among independents.

“If they [Republicans] were being honest with you, they would tell you they know this is a disaster, and they know this is a very bad call on the president and this team,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the climate has made it difficult for some Republicans to stay in Washington. He said he’d talked to one retiring House Republican who told him, “I would love to have stayed for years, but I can’t do it in this environment.”

To be sure, House Republicans this week were offering a firm defense of Trump while attacking the Democratic impeachment process.

Rep. Vicky HartzlerVicky Jo HartzlerGOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine House approves amendment to reverse transgender military ban The House-passed bills that have ended up in the Senate 'graveyard' MORE (R-Mo.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said she stood up with other Republicans to protest the closed-door hearings of the impeachment inquiry, calling the process “unfair.”

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLive updates on impeachment: Schiff fires warning at GOP over whistleblower Bottom Line Trump allies assail impeachment on process while House Democrats promise open hearings soon MORE (R-La.) called the process of the impeachment inquiry “a Soviet style process.”

Hartzler, however, stopped short of defending Giuliani and other officials, like U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryOvernight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule GOP counsel acknowledges 'irregular channel' between U.S. and Ukraine Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing MORE, who were involved with a Ukraine side policy.

“There needs to be coordination between all of government when we’re dealing with our allies who are talking about foreign policy,” said the congresswoman, who traveled on a congressional delegation to Ukraine this month.

Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-affiliated accounts after lawmaker pressure GOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine MORE (R-Pa.), one of two Republicans in districts won by Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT MORE in the 2016 presidential election who held his seat in the 2018 midterms, criticized Giuliani’s assignment to an outside diplomatic channel.

“That's a problem and it creates problems, as we're seeing now,” he told The Hill.

Those problems, he said, are of U.S. policy and strategy being undermined when outside officials flout established chains of command.

“Just like the military, the diplomatic chain, there's got to be integrity to the structure. There are rules and regulations governing to diplomatic communications. It's important that there be a consistent strategy amongst all the players. Anytime you have a situation where there's off-channel communications, that jeopardizes the whole system.”

Fitzpatrick, who was stationed in Ukraine for his work in anti-corruption with the FBI, said it’s important the U.S. speak with one voice and that Ukraine is reassured it enjoys bipartisan support on the Hill.

“My big concern right now — [Democratic Rep.] Marcy KapturMarcia (Marcy) Carolyn KapturThe National World War II Memorial is a grateful remembrance — don't let it fall apart A better way to reduce student loan debt GOP lawmakers express concerns about Giuliani's work in Ukraine MORE and I have talked about this — we need to make sure that we still send a clear message that Ukraine still enjoys bipartisan support. Anytime you have a situation like this, that's always a concern. Ukraine is a very important ally to us.”