Rick Perry has denied ever discussing the Biden family’s dealings in the Ukraine with Donald Trump after the president appeared to try to pin the scandal on the outgoing energy secretary.
In an interview with CBN News on Friday, Perry said he likely has closer relationships with Ukrainian officials than any other cabinet secretary because he spearheaded US efforts to clean up corruption in the eastern European nation.
The former Texas governor said Joe Biden’s name never came up during the many conversations he’s had with Trump, other White House officials and foreign ambassadors about his dealings in the Ukraine.
Perry’s remarks came hours after Trump reportedly blamed the energy secretary for his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.
During the call in July, Trump repeatedly urged Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son Hunter’s business dealings in the Ukraine and see if the former vice president had a hand in the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into a company Hunter was on the board of.
An anonymous CIA agent lodged a complaint about the call in August, accusing Trump of threatening to withhold military aid from the Ukraine if Zelensky refused to dig up dirt on Biden.
The whistleblower complaint led House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry last month.
Trump has repeatedly called the Ukraine allegations a ‘witch hunt’ and ‘presidential harassment’, insisting that he didn’t do anything inappropriate during the ‘perfect’ phone call.
Speaking to House Republicans on a conference call Friday, Trump claimed that he only contacted Zelensky because Perry urged him to, according to Axios.
Three sources confirmed the contents of the call. One of them quoted Trump as saying something along the lines of: ‘I didn’t even want to make the call [to Zelensky].’
Another source said that Trump, referring to Perry, had told House Republicans that ‘more of this will be coming out in the next few days’.
At no point did Trump suggest that Perry had anything to do with the pressure on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
During the CBN interview, Perry insisted that Biden never came up during his dealings with the Ukraine.
‘I never heard, and I talked to the president about this,’ he told CBN News.
‘I had a conversation with – a phone call – with Rudy Guiliani about it. I’ve talked to the previous ambassador. I’ve talked to the current ambassador. I’ve talked to Kurt Volker, Gordan Sondland, the EU ambassador- every name that you’ve seen out in the media and not once, not once, as God is my witness, not once was a Biden name – not the former vice president, not his son, ever mentioned.
‘Corruption was talked about in the country but it was always a relatively vague term of, you know, the oligarchs and this and that and what have you.’
Perry said he will cooperate fully with Congress as House Democrats conduct an impeachment inquiry.
The House Oversight Committee wants to learn more about Perry’s trip to the Ukraine for Zelensky’s inauguration in May, as well as his other discussions with Ukrainian officials.
Perry’s spokeswoman told the Associated Press on Sunday that Perry had in fact encouraged Trump to speak to Zelensky – but on energy and economic issues.
‘Secretary Perry absolutely supported and encouraged the president to speak to the new president of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development,’ Perry’s Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes said.
On Thursday, the day before Trump’s call with House Republicans, Politico reported that Perry is expected to resign in November, citing three sources familiar with the matter.
Perry was said to have been planning his resignation for several months.
Although Perry has been able to steer clear of the various controversies that have embroiled and led to the exit of others in Trump’s administration, he is now facing impeachment inquiry scrutiny over his recent trips to the Ukraine.
The House has subpoenaed Rudy Giuliani for documents related to Perry’s ‘involvement with Ukrainian leaders last spring’, according to Axios.
However, there does not appear to be any evidence that Perry was involved in the efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials into investigating the Bidens.
In fact, recently released text messages exchanged by Trump administration officials and Zelensky’s top aide, Andrey Yermak, appear to suggest that Giuliani – in his role as Trump’s personal lawyer – was the one pushing for the call between the two leaders. There also does not seem to be any message of Perry having been involved in the call planning.
Perry was not mentioned in the five-page memo of the Trump-Zelensky call that was released by the White House after the whistleblower complaint went public.
Perry’s spokesperson told Axios that the Energy Secretary ‘absolutely supported and encouraged the president to speak to the new president of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development’.
The spokesperson said Perry ‘continues to believe that there is significant need for improved regional energy security’, which is why he is traveling to Lithuania on Sunday for a Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation (P-TEC) meeting.
An energy leader from the Ukraine will attend that meeting, along with nearly two dozen other officials from central and eastern Europe.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Megan Sheets