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GOP Rep. Scalise denies Trump asked Ukraine to investigate political opponents

Appearing on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) repeatedly denied that President Trump's requests for Ukraine to investigate the 2016 election and a gas company with ties to Joe Biden's son had anything to do with his domestic political opponents.

Why it matters: As the No. 2 Republican in the House, Scalise's comments illustrate one of the varied defenses of Trump's behavior that the president's allies have deployed as they grapple with how to counter the impeachment inquiry.

  • Scalise argues that the investigations Trump desired were not related to the 2020 election and instead concerned corruption in a country to whom the U.S. was providing military aid.
  • But as ABC's George Stephanopoulos points out, it's worth noting that the only two investigations that Trump asked Ukraine to carry out involved Joe Biden — the president's top 2020 rival — and a computer server belonging to the Democratic National Committee.

The big picture: Most Republicans have taken to attacking the impeachment process, accusing House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of running the investigation in secret and blasting the inquiry as illegitimate because it hadn't been authorized by a full House vote.

  • Even after Speaker Nancy Pelosi did hold a vote, however, Republicans have continued to label the inquiry a "sham," claiming that the impeachment resolution passed last week is an attempt to legitimize an unfair process that is already underway.

What to watch: The Washington Post reported on Friday that some Senate Republicans are prepared to acknowledge that there was a quid pro quo involved in Trump's efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Biden. While Trump has long denied that he used military aid to Ukraine as leverage, the Republicans' argument is that the president's actions were not illegal and do not amount to an impeachable offense.

Go deeper: GOP Rep. Gohmert invokes "civil war" following impeachment vote