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 TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiSenate rejects subpoenaing Mulvaney to testify in impeachment trial GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid Citizens United put out a welcome mat for Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman 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.


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 YohoThe Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment face-off; Dems go after Buttigieg in debate The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal GOP's Yoho announces retirement from Congress 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 BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial 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 PompeoTrump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions GOP rejects effort to compel documents on delayed Ukraine aid 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 ScaliseThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' 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 PerrySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Overnight Energy: Appeals court tosses kids' climate suit | California sues Trump over fracking | Oversight finds EPA appointees slow-walked ethics obligations 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. FitzpatrickHouse revives agenda after impeachment storm Former Pennsylvania Rep. Fitzpatrick dead at 56 Republicans came to the table on climate this year MORE (R-Pa.), one of two Republicans in districts won by Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders 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 KapturAppropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases 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.”