House GOP Asks Chair of Senate Homeland Security Committee to Provide Impeachment Information

November 18, 2019 Updated: November 18, 2019

House Republicans have asked Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to provide information in the Democrat-led impeachment inquiry regarding U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Johnson is the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and sits on the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who both sit on the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Johnson, asking him to provide firsthand knowledge relevant to the inquiry.

“According to information obtained during the Democrats’ ‘impeachment inquiry’ and news reports, you have firsthand information about facts at issue in this inquiry,” both congressmen wrote in the letter, as reported by The Hill.

Johnson was part of the American delegation to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s inauguration earlier in 2019 and was part of a debriefing by President Donald Trump.

Trump is accused by Democrats of withholding aid to Ukraine and pressuring Zelensky, allegedly by withholding the aid to Ukraine, into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, his son, and alleged 2016 election interference. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Hunter Biden had sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma Holdings, while his father was in office.

According to a the transcript of the call, which Trump had declassified, Trump makes a request to Zelensky to “look into” the Bidens’ activities surrounding Burisma. Zelensky has denied there was any pressure on him to open any investigation.

Joe Biden in 2016 forced the firing of top Ukrainian prosecutor Victor Shokin, who had been investigating Burisma, by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees; Biden bragged about the move during a videotaped speech on a panel last year. Trump cited that video in his request to Zelensky.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and minority counsel Steve Castor
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), and minority counsel Steve Castor confer during the first public impeachment hearing on Nov. 13, 2019. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

Johnson, according to their letter, had conversations with witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, including ambassador Bill Taylor and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union. Sondland will testify on Wednesday while Taylor testified last week.

“You also participated in phone calls with Ambassador Sondland and President Trump, and a meeting with President Zelensky, Senator [Chris] Murphy [(D-Conn.)], and Ambassador Taylor in Kyiv on September 5,” their letter states. “These events are relevant to the ‘impeachment inquiry.’”

Meanwhile, Nunes and Jordan criticized the inquiry as “one-sided, partisan, and fundamentally unfair” in the letter.

On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Johnson defended Trump, saying that, based on his knowledge, he doesn’t think Trump abused his power.

schiff and nunes
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) (L) and Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) during the first public hearings held by the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington on Nov. 13, 2019. (Saul Loeb/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Johnson also criticized people in the Trump administration who have leaked information.

“One thing I want to point out is the damage that is being done to our country through this entire impeachment process. You know, it’s going to be very difficult for future presidents to have a candid conversation with a world leader because now we’ve set the precedent of leaking transcripts. It’s going—you know, the weakening of executive privilege is not good,” he said.

He added: “Those individuals that leaked this, you know, if their interest was a stronger relationship with Ukraine, they didn’t accomplish it. Having this all come out into public has weakened that relationship, has exposed things that didn’t need to be exposed.”

The whistleblower at the center of the impeachment inquiry also likely damaged U.S.-Ukraine relations, the senator said.

“I listened to the Washington Post article lionizing this whistleblower. Listen, if the whistleblower’s goal is to improve our relationship with Ukraine, he utterly … or she utterly failed,” he remarked.

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