Perry defends urging Trump to make call in impeachment focus

Perry defends urging Trump to make call in impeachment focus

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Outgoing U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Saturday that he asked President Donald Trump to make the phone call at the centre of the impeachment inquiry because it was “important” for the country’s energy needs and had nothing to do with former Vice-President Joe Biden or his son Hunter.

He also hardened his tone on the impeachment hearings, vowing not to testify before a congressional inquiry he said was “not only illegal, but improper.”

Perry told The Associated Press that he urged Trump to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to offer Ukraine “an alternative to Russian gas” and said he never once heard the word Biden or Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that once employed Biden’s son.

The impeachment inquiry is investigating whether Trump was withholding military aid unless Zelenskiy went public with a promise to investigate the Bidens.

Regarding Zelenskiy, Perry said he merely wished to deliver the same message he had to his predecessor.

“We had had enough conversations with him that we had felt comfortable that he actually was going to do what he said he was going to do when he ran for office, which was have that type of transparency, have that type of anti-corruption efforts,” Perry said in Dubai, where he was meeting local officials and attending an international youth robotics contest. “(I said) Mr. President, call this guy. It’s good for him and it’s good for us and we can go forward in helping supply gas, preferably U.S. gas, to Ukraine. Pretty straight-forward story.”

Perry recently announced that he will leave his job by the end of the year, citing the nation nearing its goal of energy independence. Perry, 69, a former Texas governor, has been energy secretary since March 2017, making him one of the longest-serving members of Trump’s Cabinet, which has seen huge turnover.

But the move comes as he’s been caught up in scrutiny over the role he played in the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

A top U.S. diplomat, William Taylor, has named administration officials who he said told him Trump had demanded of the Ukrainians an investigation of Burisma. The elder Biden is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

No evidence has emerged that Perry explicitly pressured Ukrainian officials to comply with Trump’s push. He has been subpoenaed for his involvement in the call but says he won’t co-operate.

“The United States Congress is not following both their own rules and precedent with this and until they do that, I don’t intend to be a participant in what I consider to be not only illegal but improper. They need to have a vote,” he said Saturday.

Earlier this month, in his first comments about speaking to Congress, Perry indicated he was “going to work with Congress and answer all their questions.”

Trump is trying to block members of his administration from testifying before lawmakers who are investigating whether Trump used the powers of his office for personal political aims in Ukraine.

Perry has acknowledged that he consulted on Ukraine matters with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani served as one of Trump’s main, back channel movers in the administration’s 2020-related political efforts in Ukraine, in talks bypassing official U.S. government channels.

The U.S. has indicted associates of Giuliani on allegations they illegally tried to funnel cash to Republican politicians, using a natural gas company as a front. It’s part of the tangle of business and political administration efforts in Ukraine that impeachment investigators are trying to unravel.

Trump told a group of Republican lawmakers that it was Perry who had prompted the July phone call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy for a “favour” regarding Biden, according to an AP source familiar with the president’s remarks.

But Perry said he didn’t feel he was being set up as the fall guy.

“I don’t consider President Trump trying to put the blame on me, I consider President Trump to be telling the truth. I didn’t ask him to do a favour,” he said. “I asked the president to make the call.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Heather Buelow, owner of Aerial Edge Studio in Blackfalds, says she has spent ‘all of my saving keeping the studio going’ through government-mandated shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Either open in-person or close permanently: Central Alberta yoga studio defying rules

A central Alberta woman is allowing clients back into her yoga and… Continue reading

(MaxPixel)
Sandra Schmirler Foundation donates $10,000 to Red Deer hospital

Donation will go towards electronic fetal heart monitoring project

A sustainability audit for Westerner Park suggested 33 changes, including more city involvement. (Advocate file photo)
Westerner Park expands volunteer program

As Westerner Park refocuses the organization, they are reigniting their emphasis on… Continue reading

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Ukraine’s leader requests a talk with Putin, gets no answer

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on December 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle
New regulator to stop sexual exploitation of children online: public safety minister

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the government will introduce… Continue reading

Gordon Greenwood Elementary Grade 7 students were assigned to write about climate change. The Langley Advance Times is pleased to present a selection of their writings. (Sasha/Special to the Langley Advance Times)
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

OTTAWA — A new report shows Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says he will vote against a… Continue reading

Eugene Kwon of Gratia Bakery and Cafe says the business will be relying on take out orders and a small patio. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

OTTAWA — A group representing thousands of the country’s small businesses says… Continue reading

Ron Howard is photographed at the "Inferno" film premiere on Oct. 25, 2016 in Los Angeles. (Buckner/Rex Shutterstock/Zuma Press/TNS)
Brothers Ron and Clint Howard have memoir coming in October

NEW YORK — Filmmaker-actor Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, brothers, former… Continue reading

FILE - In this Saturday, March 27, 2021 file photo, Buffalo Sabres’ Taylor Hall plays against the Boston Bruins during the second period of an NHL hockey game, in Boston. The Buffalo Sabres could trade 2018 MVP Hall, who signed for just this season and is a pending free agent. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
Boston Bruins acquire Taylor Hall to kick off NHL trade deadline day

Trade deadline day in the NHL has started with the Boston Bruins… Continue reading

Most Read