GOP Sen. Criticizes Trump’s Ukraine Call, Dismisses Biden Conspiracy Theory

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) takes questions from reporters after meeting with Mary Barra, chief executive officer of General Motors (GM), on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2018. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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October 7, 2019 3:31 p.m.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) chastised President Donald Trump on Monday for pushing the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden during a July call.

“The President should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period,” Portman said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “It’s not appropriate for a President to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent.”

The Ohio Republican said he doesn’t see the call as an impeachable offense, but he expressed support for a congressional investigation into the scandal.

Portman, who had co-signed a letter to Ukraine in 2016 calling for anti-corruption reforms at General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin’s office, also pushed back against Trump’s baseless claim that Biden had gotten Shokin fired for investigating a gas company with ties to his son.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t remember that even being an issue,” the senator said. “That was not why we were calling for reforms.”

The letter in question echoed then-Vice President Biden’s concern that Shokin was not addressing government corruption – the opposite of Trump’s claims in his debunked conspiracy theory.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) had also signed the letter, though last week he claimed that Congress may have been subjected to a “misinformation campaign” about Shokin at the time.

So far, only three other Republican senators have called out Trump for asking foreign governments to investigate Biden: Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Mitt Romney (R-UT).

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