Senate

GOP senator: Releasing transcript of Trump-Ukraine call would set ‘dangerous precedent’

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is warning the Trump administration against releasing the transcript of a call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying it could have a chilling effect on talks with other heads of state.
 
“It’s a very dangerous precedent, and I think it’s going to really harm any president, whether it’s this president or a future president’s ability to talk to world leaders candidly,” Johnson told reporters on Monday. 
 
{mosads}He added that releasing the call transcript “would be the worst possible precedent.”
 
“This is not something that Congress necessarily has to have its hands on,” he said. 
 
The president is facing calls, including from some within his own party, to release the transcript of his conversation with Zelensky, which is reportedly linked to a whistleblower complaint.
 
Reports surfaced over the weekend that Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani attempted to persuade Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in the country.
 
Trump appeared to acknowledge on Sunday that he had discussed Joe Biden on the call with Zelensky. But he said on Monday that he did not threaten to withhold aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Biden family.
 

“I did not make a statement that you have to do this or I’m not going to give you aid,” Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

 
He’s also sent mixed signals about whether he’ll authorize the transcript of the call to be released. 
 

“I can do it very easily, but I would rather not do it from the standpoint of all of the other conversations I had. I may do it because it was a very innocent call on both his part and mine,” Trump told reporters on Monday before a meeting with the president of Poland. 

 
Whether Trump should release the transcript has become an early point of contention. 
 
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close Trump ally, has urged him to be as “transparent as possible,” while Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told reporters on Monday that he supports having the administration hand over the transcript. Johnson, Graham and Romney are all on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
 
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), however, appeared hesitant, questioning the potential ramifications for other conversations. 

“What about all the other conversations that the presidents of the United States have with foreign leaders and so forth? A lot of that is not for public consumption, I would imagine,” Shelby said.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Mitt Romney Richard Shelby Ron Johnson Rudy Giuliani Ukraine

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