Gaetz defends Ukraine call: Trump acted on 'sincere' concerns of corruption

Gaetz defends Ukraine call: Trump acted on 'sincere' concerns of corruption
© Aaron Schwartz

Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzGaetz in Twitter battle with Florida House Republican Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Conservatives slam Warren's call to put transgender women in women's prisons MORE (R-Fla.) on Sunday said President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE was acting on "sincere" concerns of corruption during his July 25 phone call with Ukraine.

He also said on ABC's "This Week" that having White House officials testify in the impeachment inquiry would benefit Trump but could set a dangerous precedent.

The Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he believed Trump acted on his long-held skepticism about foreign aid and worries about corruption in Ukraine as well as about the connection between former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine MORE's son and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

"I think the president was acting on a sincere, longly held view and skepticism of foreign aid," he said. "I think he was acting on concern about Ukraine being the third-most corrupt country in the world."

Gaetz added that he thought having Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' MORE, acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyCollins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Schumer doesn't rule out calling Parnas to testify in impeachment trial Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo under pressure over threats to Yovanovitch Regardless of how the Iraqis feel, the US should leave Democrats clash at debate over keeping US troops in Mideast MORE testify in the impeachment inquiry would help the president’s defense but expressed concerns about the precedent the testimony would set.  

“I think it would inure to the president's advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him, but they — we want to preserve an executive branch where there are out-of-the-box strategy sessions where people come up with crazy ideas and reject those ideas and hone them,” he said. 

The House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into the president after a whistleblower complained Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and his son days after military aid was withheld from the country.

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Republicans have maintained the president’s request reflected Trump’s goals of combating corruption and preventing U.S. funds from going to corrupt countries.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Defense: GAO finds administration broke law by withholding Ukraine aid | Senate opens Trump trial | Pentagon to resume training Saudi students soon Hillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' MORE (D-Calif.) announced last week that the House will move forward and draft articles of impeachment.