Rep. Mike Johnson: Senate First Has To Decide Whether There’s A Legitimate Case For Impeachment

ARI MELBER: Since the President said he wanted an investigation into his potential rival, Joe Biden. that he wanted Ukraine to look into the Bidens, how do you argue that pursuit is not an abuse of power?

REP. MIKE JOHNSON: Well, it’s not an abuse of power, because that’s not exactly what happened. If you look at the specific facts and everything that’s in the record of this that will be presented for the whole country to see now, the President was concerned about corruption in Ukraine. He had a very frank phone call with President Zelensky, the famous July 25th phone call. The transcript, of course, has been released and everyone in America can read it for themselves. He calls it a perfect phone call. There was clearly nothing wrong there. There’s not an abuse of power. And the whole debate yesterday about witnesses and documents is frankly premature because under our Constitutional system, the Senate first has to decide whether there’s a legitimate case for impeachment, and abuse of power is not a legitimate charge for impeachment under our system. 

MELBER: Are there any other countries where Donald Trump has shown a significant interest in domestic corruption? Have we heard of any evidence of him publicly requesting for those investigations elsewhere? Because it does seem that his interests are attached to the Bidens, a domestic rival, not Ukraine, as a foreign interest? 

REP. JOHNSON: Well, there’s a laser focus on this particular issue in this nation of Ukraine which, by the way, was ranked as the third most corrupt nation in the world by all objective estimates. He was concerned about that. We don’t have a laser focus on all of the other diplomacy and discussions with other heads of state around the country. Donald Trump is concerned, and has always been concerned about the misuse of American taxpayer dollars overseas. He talked about it all the time. Before he became President, it was one of his primary themes. When he talked on the campaign trail about putting America first that was specifically one of the things he was talking about. This is not inconsistent with his character and his politics.