Republican Senator Richard Shelby from Alabama on Sunday downplayed President Donald Trump’s public attempt to persuade foreign countries to probe former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
The Democrat-led House voted in mid-December to approve two articles of impeachment—abuse of power and obstruction of Congress—against Trump. At the heart of the impeachment proceedings, launched by Speaker Nancy Pelosi in September, is a July phone call between the U.S. leader and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which Trump asked his foreign counterpart to investigate the Bidens.
When asked by George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’ This Week whether Trump’s conduct in relation to the Ukraine scandal amounted to an impeachable offense, Shelby said: “Well, I don’t know that has actually been proven.”
“That’s all in dispute. I’ve never seen anything where Trump was actually involved in it,” he continued, before Stephanopoulos reminded him that the president encouraged Ukraine and China to investigate the Bidens publicly late last year.
In the days after Pelosi formally announced the impeachment inquiry into Trump, the White House released a summary transcript of the president’s call with Zelenskiy, which recounted the president urging the Ukrainian leader to dig into unfounded allegations against the Bidens. Trump later told reporters at the White House that Zelensky and China should “start an investigation into the Bidens,” roughly a week after the White House released the transcript.
“We’ve seen the president in public ask the Ukrainians to get involved, asked the Chinese to get involved,” Stephanopoulous told Shelby.
“Well, those are just statements, political. They make them all the time,” Shelby said. “I didn’t say it was OK. People do things, things happen.”
He went on to defend Trump further, saying that he’s only “human” and is prone to making the same “mistakes of judgment” that other politicians have made in the past.
Newsweek reached out to Shelby for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
House Democrats released an extensive 111-page document outlining their procedural and substantial case against Trump on Saturday, ahead of the Senate impeachment trial. The brief argues that the president should be removed from office as he abused his power and obstructed Congress.
“The evidence overwhelmingly establishes that he is guilty of both. The only remaining question is whether the members of the Senate will accept and carry out the responsibility placed on them by the Framers of our Constitution and their constitutional Oaths,” the document reads. “History will judge each Senator’s willingness to rise above partisan differences, view the facts honestly, and defend the Constitution.”