Republicans worried about Trump Ukraine phone call

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Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, said there were “very disturbing” things in the whistleblower report of a US intelligence official whose concerns about Donald Trump partly prompted Democrats to launch an investigation of impeachment against the president.

“Republicans shouldn’t be rushing around the wagons and saying there isn’t there when there is obviously a lot of very disturbing stuff,” Sasse said Wednesday after reading a copy of the report that was provided to Congress.

Mr Sasse, who has occasionally criticized Mr Trump, said Democrats should not rush to use words like “impeach” either. But his comments suggest the president will be given further consideration when the report is widely released. Joseph Maguire, acting head of the intelligence community, will also testify before a House committee on Thursday.

“A statement like this from Senator Sasse is a pretty good indication of the seriousness of the whistleblower’s complaint,” said Evan McMullin, a former CIA agent and Republican congressman who ran for president in Canada. 2016 as an independent.

Several other Republicans have also raised concerns after the White House released a non-text transcript of a July 25 phone call between Mr Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. The US president urged his counterpart to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian company that had come under scrutiny.

Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and former Republican presidential candidate, said it was “deeply disturbing.” He did not say whether he would go so far as to support impeachment, but added: “we will see where this leads”.

Patrick Toomey, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, said comments on the call were “inappropriate” but did not warrant impeachment.

While there were signs some Republicans might be willing to break with the president, most party members stuck with Mr. Trump and accused Democrats of making another attempt to overturn the 2016 election. .

More than 215 of the 235 Democrats in the House supported the decision to initiate impeachment proceedings, suggesting that the party would have little trouble passing articles of impeachment if its leaders chose that route.

But Democrats would need at least 20 Republican senators to ditch Mr. Trump and reach the two-thirds threshold to convict him in the Senate.

The net of criticism from the GOP came as the White House gave Congress the whistleblower’s complaint. Democrats hope the complaint will provide additional ammunition that may cause more Republicans to reconsider their support for the president.

Joaquin Castro, a congressman from Texas, said after reading the complaint that the scandal was more serious than he had imagined.

“This thing is bigger than I thought,” Mr. Castro tweeted.

Video: is the Trump-Ukraine call a ‘smoking gun’?

At a press conference in New York, Mr Trump insisted he had nothing to hide and tried to shine the spotlight on the Bidens, repeating widely disputed claims that the former vice -President sought to hush up an investigation into his son’s relationships.

Despite the White House publishing the summary of the July phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelensky, the US president insisted he had not exerted pressure on Kiev.

“I didn’t threaten anyone. No push, no pressure, I didn’t do anything. . . Take a look at that call, it was perfect. There was no quid pro quo, ”he said.

Mr Trump said he would also release a transcription of the first telephone interview he had with Mr. Zelensky during the election of the former actor.

“It’s all just a hoax. . . And this is just a continuation of the witch hunts, ”he said.

Mr Trump arrived at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday hoping to spend the week advocating for countries to take tougher action on Iran following its alleged attack on Saudi oil facilities in the area. last week.

But he found himself embroiled in a scandal that led him to become only the fourth US president – after Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton – to face impeachment proceedings in the House.

Mr Trump said Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had capitulated to “radical left-wing socialists” that the effort could help him politically as he campaigned for re-election.

But Ms Pelosi, who initiated the impeachment inquiry, said the transcript of the July appeal proved Mr Trump had abused his office.

“I respect the president’s responsibility to engage with foreign leaders in the course of his work. It is not part of his job to use taxpayers’ money to shake up other countries for the benefit of his campaign, ”said Ms. Pelosi.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo and Lauren Fedor on Twitter: @dimi and @LaurenFedor

Video: US intelligence chief defends handling of whistleblower complaint



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