Members of Washington’s congressional delegation are calling for the transcript of President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president that a whistleblower alleged was an attempt to invite foreign interference in the 2020 election.
Trump is claiming innocence regarding the phone call in which the whistleblower complaint alleges he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
Those calling for the transcript include GOP Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democratic Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.
“The Inspector General should be allowed to do his job and provide the whistleblower complaint,” Cantwell said in a statement. “The administration should also release the transcript of President Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President. We cannot allow foreign interference in our elections.”
Trump said he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about the Bidens, asserting they were discussing the family in relation to corruption in Ukraine. Hunter Biden was hired by Burisma Holdings – a Ukranian gas company – in 2014, the Associated Press reported.
“He’s trying to put a face on this that he was trying to accomplish a public policy goal, not a personal goal of going after one of his political opponents,” said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute of Public Policy and Public Service at WSU. “If the president’s legitimate concern was that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden had been involved with some corrupt activity with a foreign government, the appropriate response would be for him to go to the FBI.”
McMorris Rodgers’ spokesman said she wanted to “get all of the facts and not make any hasty or unfounded conclusions.”
“She thinks the President should release the transcript of the conversation for transparency and is hopeful that he will provide it,” spokesman Jared Powell said in a statement.
Sen. Patty Murray said Congress needs access to every aspect of the whistleblower complaint for an investigation.
Congress, she said, should “make it abundantly clear to this President that despite what he may think, this isn’t how things work in the United States.”
Both Sens. Mike Crapo and James Risch said in separate statements they are reserving judgment until they have all of the facts.
“I look forward to hearing from Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr, as he looks into the facts of this matter,” Crapo said.
The chorus of lawmakers in the House calling for impeachment is growing louder, and Clayton said Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “go slow” approach might not hold up much longer. One reason impeachment might be more attractive is that the developing narrative would be much more digestible in contrast to the Mueller report.
“That is a straightforward story that people understand at a gut level is simply corrupt,” Clayton said. “You certainly wouldn’t expect the president of the U.S. to behave in that way, so I think that’s why this is a bit different than some of the other scandals.”
Aleks Chernega, a senior at Eastern Washington University, moved here from Ukraine when he was 3. He said that even if the whistleblower’s claim proved to be valid, most people in Spokane’s Ukrainian community would continue supporting the president.
“A lot of the Ukrainians that I know are pretty conservative, mostly because of the social policies that Republicans have,” Chernega said. “Because of that, it’s like they don’t pay attention as much to the political details, but more like broader ideas, even if they’re maybe oversimplified.”
Chernega said he has yet to meet anyone in the Ukrainian community who pays attention to the news enough to be outraged by anything Trump has done. He said these political issues will always take a backseat, in traditional communities, to abortion and immigration. Even more so, he added, how Christian the candidate may be.
“It was smart what the Republican Party did, they aligned themselves with the traditional Christian U.S. and that’s really hard to separate for people who support him,” Chernega said. “It’s easy to overlook other transgressions.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.