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Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on Sunday slammed the House’s impeachment inquiry into President Trump for chasing after a “red herring” when trying to determine whether the president tied foreign aid to Ukraine to an investigation into his political rivals, and he attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for making impeachment proceedings a “political weapon.”
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Kennedy dodged a question by Chris Wallace on whether Trump was asking Ukraine to investigate corruption or to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and instead called out Pelosi for politicizing the impeachment process.
“Speaker Pelosi is acting in a manner that is insincere, even by the standards of Congress,” Kennedy said. “She is turning impeachment into a routine political weapon.”
Kennedy went on to criticize House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s move to bar Republicans from calling witnesses in the impeachment inquiry and “not allowing the president to defend himself.”
A number of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have commented that the president is welcome to testify before the committee during the impeachment hearings.
On the issue of if there was quid pro quo between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when the president asked his Eastern European counterpart to look into the Ukraine business dealings of Biden and his son Hunter, Kennedy made his feelings clear.
“The quid pro quo is a red herring,” he said. “President Trump asked for an investigation of possible corruption by someone who happens to be a political rival. The matter, if proven, would be in the national interest.”
The impeachment inquiry into Trump began when a whistleblower reported that Trump had pushed Zelensky to launch a public investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine — specifically, why the former vice president pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings.
Hunter Biden worked for a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son.
Kennedy’s comments come two days after his fellow Republican senator, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between Biden, his son and Poroshenko.
Graham’s letter, which was released as the final day of public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump wrapped up, asked Pompeo to release a series of documents and transcripts of conversations in 2016 between Biden and Poroshenko in relation to an investigation into Burisma Holdings.