Rick Perry denies discussing Bidens with Trump or Ukraine officials: reports
Energy Secretary Rick Perry denies ever mentioning the Bidens during discussions with Ukrainian officials or with President Trump, according to reports.
Perry’s name has come up in connection with the Trump-Ukraine phone call saga, after news outlet Axios reported that Trump told House Republicans he made the July phone call to the Ukrainian president based on Perry’s recommendation.
The controversy surrounding the call centers on allegations that Trump requested Ukraine officials investigate business dealings in the country by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as part of a “quid pro quo” arrangement for Ukraine to secure U.S military funding.
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Democrats have alleged that such an arrangement could be grounds for Trump’s impeachment. But some Republicans say Capitol Hill testimony last week by former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Kurt Volker nullied any "quid pro quo" claim.
Although neither Biden has been charged with wrongdoing, Trump has raised questions about Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy firm, and Joe Biden’s later efforts, while vice president, to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating the company’s founder.
In its story, Axios cited three sources who claim Trump pointed to Perry as having suggested the president call his Ukrainian counterpart.
According to one source, Trump said words 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," and the other two sources agreed with that recollection, Axios reported.
But on Friday, Perry -- the Republican former governor of Texas who has served as energy secretary since March 2017 -- told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an exclusive interview that his dealings in Ukraine were part of a U.S. effort to help clean up corruption there, but the Bidens’ names never came up during his discussions with Trump administration officials.
“I never heard, and I talked to the president about this,” Perry told the Christian network. “I had a conversation with - a phone call - with [Trump attorney] Rudy Guiliani about it. I've talked to the previous [U.S.] ambassador [to Ukraine]. I've talked to the current ambassador.
“I’ve talked to Kurt Volker, Gordan Sondland, the EU ambassador, every name that you've seen out in the media, and not once, not once as God is my witness, not once was a Biden name -- not the former vice president, not his son -- ever mentioned.
"Not once, as God is my witness, not once was a Biden 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.”
In addition, Politico reported Saturday that its sources claim Perry never discussed a possible investigation of the Bidens with any Ukrainian officials. The same report disclosed that Perry’s dealing in Ukraine have been more extensive than had been publicly reported – including efforts to convince Ukraine’s state-owned natural gas company Naftogaz to add Americans to its board.
The ultimate goal of Perry’s efforts in Ukraine, the secretary told the Christian network, was to help eliminate corruption in the country so that U.S. companies could have confidence doing business there.
"This has been a very intense, a very focused push to get Ukraine to clean up the corruption,” Perry told the Christian network. “It's a very well-known fact that this was historically a corrupt place and the message was clear: You clean up the corruption and the United States will be certainly willing to come in and help you.
"I can't go in good faith and tell a U.S. company, ‘Go and invest here, go and be involved,’ if the corruption is ongoing," he added.
Last week Politico reported that Perry is expected to resign from the Energy Department in November, citing information from three sources, but the Energy Department responded with a statement downplaying the story.
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“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,” department spokeswoman Shaylyn Haynes wrote. “One day the media will be right. Today is not that day.”
The Politico story said Perry’s possible departure was not related to the Ukraine situation.
Meanwhile, the Axios story said Trump suggested that more information about Perry's role in the Ukraine situation "will be coming out in the next few days."
Fox Business' Ken Martin contributed to this story