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 TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiMiller on whether Trump regrets 'Lock her up' chant about Whitmer: 'Not at all' Feds investigating if alleged Hunter Biden emails connected to foreign intelligence operation: report Intelligence officials warned Trump that Giuliani was target of Russian influence campaign: report 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 YohoKat Cammack wins Florida GOP primary in bid for Ted Yoho's seat The Hill's Convention Report: Democrats gear up for Day Two of convention Eyes turn to Ocasio-Cortez as she seeks to boost Biden 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 BoltonJohn Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report Bolton: North Korea 'more dangerous now' Demand for Trump-related titles sparks expected record year for political books 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 PompeoPompeo warns any arms sales to Iran will result in sanctions as embargo expires Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of missile strike that killed at least 13 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 HartzlerMissouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler wins GOP primary Wuhan is the final straw: The world needs to divest from China On The Money: Hopes fade for coronavirus relief deal this month | Burr problem grows for GOP | Layoffs hit record high of 11 million in March 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 ScaliseJordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins Candymakers meet virtually with lawmakers for annual fly-in, discuss Halloween safety 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 PerryIs Social Security safe from the courts? Trump, Biden set for high-stakes showdown President Trump faces Herculean task in first debate 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. FitzpatrickLawmakers urge IRS to get stimulus payments to domestic violence survivors Hopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum MORE (R-Pa.), one of two Republicans in districts won by Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton Rally crowd chants 'lock him up' as Trump calls Biden family 'a criminal enterprise' Undecided voters in Arizona wary of Trump, crave stability Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw 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 KapturUkraine language in GOP platform underscores Trump tensions Eye on gavel, Wasserman Schultz proposes panel on racial inequality in spending Overnight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on 'unfathomable' nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader 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.”