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Sen. James Lankford: Rudy Giuliani's Work 'Not A Shadow Foreign Policy'06:58
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Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., asks a question during a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing on international mail and the opioid crisis, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., asks a question during a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee hearing on international mail and the opioid crisis, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
This article is more than 3 years old.

As the House impeachment inquiry of President Trump moves forward, this weekend, it was full-court press by Democrats and Republicans to shape the public’s perception of this critical moment.

When Trump told the Ukrainian president, "I would like you to do us a favor though," did that constitute a presidential abuse of power?

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said no.

"I have zero problems with this phone call. There is no quid pro quo here, but I have a problem with Nancy Pelosi," he said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., had a completely opposite take on the same phone call.

"It is illegal, improper, a violation of oath, a violation of his duty to defend our elections and our Constitution, for the president to merely ask for foreign interference in our election," Schiff said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Adding to the chorus of lawmakers weighing in one way or another is Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. He joined On Point's Meghna Chakrabarti Monday to break down his position.

"One hundred Democrats began this year, saying, 'We want to be able to impeach the president.' And they've been working to find a moment to be able to convince their peers to join them in that," Lankford said. "Now, apparently, last week, they convinced their colleagues, 'Come join us in this, and let's go impeach the president.' "

Interview Highlights

On whether he would support holding an impeachment trial in the Senate, should the House vote to impeach President Trump

"Sure, we should. That's a constitutional responsibility, to be able to go through the process. So, there's no exception on that. Now, what the House passes, and what they send over to us, we can look at it for its validity, try to be able to make that evaluation. But, absolutely, there should be a response from the Senate if the House does an impeachment."

On whether there is validity to the impeachment inquiry

"One hundred Democrats began this year, saying, ‘We want to be able to impeach the president.’ And they've been working to find a moment to be able to convince their peers to join them in that. Now, apparently, last week, they convinced their colleagues, ‘Come join us in this, and let's go impeach the president.’ I think it's a very intense conversation, when you're actually talking about high crimes and misdemeanors, when you're going through that process. As we learned, as a nation, a century ago, the impeachment of a president is not just about ‘I don't like his political views, I don't like how he handles himself.’ It is a criminal probe, more than anything else. That's what the American people expect. I think the American people expect if someone is elected, the other side is going to work with them. That it's not going to become a distraction based on just, ‘I don’t like his political perspective, I don’t like the way he handles himself.’ They want to know there's something bigger than that."

"One hundred Democrats began this year, saying, ‘We want to be able to impeach the president.’ And they've been working to find a moment to be able to convince their peers to join them in that."

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.

"Early last week, 200 Democrats came out and said, ‘We want to do an impeachment inquiry on the president, and we're going to base that on information we'll get tomorrow.’ And it was a very odd week last week, that literally 200 Democrats announced … before they had any information about the whistleblower, before they knew the validity of it, before they had seen the transcript, before they had read the whistleblower report, even, [Democrats] announced they wanted to open an impeachment inquiry about what they hoped they would read the next day. And, then, of course, the information comes out the next day, and they said, 'See, we told you so, that there's something there.'

"So, it made for a very odd political week, that they literally announced the impeachment inquiry first, and then actually read information to try to figure out why, second. That puts a very severe taint on this whole process, to show just how political it really is. Now, the challenge is, then, to be able to get the facts out of it, because everyone's so twisted around, about the issue of an impeachment inquiry. And, one of the main facts that everyone seems to be missing is the Ukrainian president, [Volodymyr] Zelensky, is actually the one who brought the issue up — about Rudy Giuliani, and about the Hunter Biden topic — up to President Trump, first. And, then, President Trump actually responded back to him. This has been big news in Ukraine for months, and months, and months. It's only now reaching the United States.”

On concerns that Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, conducted “shadow foreign policy” on behalf of the president

"Part of the challenge is not a shadow foreign policy. It is doing political work for the president, as well as legal work. Obviously, Rudy Giuliani has been very engaged, trying to defend the president on all these accusations with Russia. Now, Democrats seem to have dropped all of that after 2 1/2 years. They've dropped the issue about Russia, and the Russian collusion. But, there are still some things to be tied up there, including some connections in Ukraine, to try to figure out where this information was coming from. That's why there is a special council that's already been assigned by William Barr, to be able to go do the investigation. That's John Durham, and his investigation has been ongoing, very quiet, as it should be. But, that's been ongoing for a while. And then the next question is, ‘What has been done in the past and what is that?’ So, Rudy Giuliani does have a responsibility working for the president personally, but also in his political operation, as well."

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