Trump: Rick Perry pressured me to make Ukraine call

(File photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

There’s no end to the intrigue when it comes to President Trump, if you are to accept the media’s take on events as fact.

The president is allegedly blaming Energy Secretary Rick Perry for his call with the Ukrainian president, which is the focal point of the Democrats’ campaign to remove Trump from office, according to Axios.

Citing the standard anonymous sources, the news outlet said that in a Friday call with House Republicans, Trump said that he called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky because Perry wanted him to get involved in a natural gas issue.

Trump reportedly repeated his insistence that his call with Zelensky was “perfect” and that he did nothing wrong.

More from Axios:

But he then threw Perry into the mix and said something to the effect of: “Not a lot of people know this but, I didn’t even want to make the call. The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about an LNG [liquified natural gas] plant,” one source said, recalling the president’s comments. 2 other sources confirmed the first source’s recollection.

The pretense of the article, according to the reporters, is that Trump “may be seeking to distance himself from responsibility or recast the pretext for the call.”

A spokesperson for Perry, who led a U.S. delegation to Ukraine in May for Zelensky’s inauguration, did not dispute that the energy secretary “encouraged” Trump to speak with the Ukrainian leader on the matter.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

According to the transcript of the call, natural gas did not come up, but the president did bring up former Vice President Joe Biden, asking Zelensky to get to the bottom of Biden allegedly pushing for a top prosecutor in that nation being fired — one of the cases being investigated by the prosecutor involved Burisam Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that was paying Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, up to $50,000 a month to sit on its board.

But Perry denies mentioning the Bidens in any discussions with Ukrainian officials or with President Trump.

In an exclusive interview on Friday with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Perry said that there were discussions about getting Ukraine to “clean up corruption” so that U.S. companies would have confidence in investing in the country.

“I never heard, and I talked to the president about this,” he said, “I had a conversation with, a phone call, with [Trump’s personal attorney] 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,” Perry continued. “Every name that you have seen out in the media, and not once, not once as God is my witness, not once was Biden a 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,” he added.

While the media will likely exploit the remarks to suggest a riff between the president and his energy secretary, it’s worth noting that the quote attributed to Trump did not mention anything about Perry bringing up the Bidens.

Speaking of riffs, Politico reported last week that Perry, who is now “embroiled” in the impeachment inquiry, is planning to resign from the Energy Department at the end of November.

According to the anonymous sources cited, Perry’s departure after nearly three years on the job has been planned for months and is not due to the Ukrainian controversy,

Energy Department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes dismissed the report.

“While the Beltway media has breathlessly reported on rumors of Secretary Perry’s departure for months, he is still the Secretary of Energy and a proud member of President Trump’s Cabinet. One day the media will be right. Today is not that day,” Hynes said, according to Politico.

Tom Tillison

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