Mark Meadows denies Trump asked Ukraine to investigate political rival
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) falsely claimed on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump did not ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival on a July 25 phone call.
DANA BASH: "The president asked a leader of a foreign country to investigate his political rival. So one simple question to start, is that appropriate?"
MEADOWS: "Well one, he didn't do that. I don't agree with your premise. He talked about investigations. If you look at the transcript, I think he said 'will you do us a favor,' based on the United States going through a lot. Talking about 2016 elections. ... We know that Joe Biden was involved with Ukraine, dozens of contacts with Ukraine. At a minimum, he should have recused himself from anything related to his son and I think you can agree with that."
Why it matters: The leading Trump ally's defense illustrates the degree to which House Republicans will dispute key facts in the impeachment inquiry, which will cross another critical threshold this week as the House Judiciary Committee votes on articles of impeachment.
- As previewed in the House Intelligence Committee's minority report, Republicans will claim that Trump did absolutely nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine, despite equivocation from some GOP members about whether the phone call was — as Trump has claimed — "perfect."
Reality check: As CNN's Dana Bash points out, President Trump specifically asked Zelesnky on the July 25 phone call to investigate Joe Biden, who was at that point seen as the likely frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic primary. Trump did not raise any broader concerns about corruption in Ukraine.
- Meadows claimed that running for public office should not immunize someone from investigations. However, multiple witnesses testified during the impeachment hearings that Trump didn't care as much about whether Ukraine actually carried out the investigations.
- Rather, the president simply wanted Zelensky in a "public box" by having him announce that Ukraine would open the investigations in a statement on CNN, according to testimony.
Go deeper: House updates its guide for impeachment