Several days after Rick Perry refused to comply with a congressional subpoena in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, the secretary of energy and former Texas governor spoke publicly about his involvement with Ukraine – a central aspect of that inquiry.
Politico energy reporter Anthony Adragna says Perry appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday, saying he had discussed rooting out corruption in Ukraine with its officials, but had never mentioned former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump is accused of making a quid pro quo deal with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in order to have officials there investigate Biden, a political rival, and Trump claims Perry is the one who urged him to call Zelensky.
“The words ‘Biden’ were never uttered as part of those conversations,” Adragna says Perry said on Hewitt’s show.
Last week, Perry refused to comply with a congressional subpoena as part of the impeachment inquiry.
Adragna says Perry is one of the so-called “three amigos” who determine U.S. policy toward Ukraine. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and diplomat Kurt Volker are the other two.
“The three of them were sort of running an informal diplomacy channel,” Adragna says. “Secretary Perry was involved in a number of meetings, met with the Ukrainian President, Zelensky, and other key figures as part of this ongoing saga.”
Unlike Perry, Sondland and Volker have testified in congressional hearings as part of the impeachment inquiry.
“There’s tremendous interest among Democrats in hearing from [Perry] as part of this investigation, but that’s not happened yet,” Adragna says.
On Hewitt’s show Wednesday, Perry said he had urged Ukraine to reign in corruption in order to make it a more attractive place for foreign energy investment. Adragna says “there’s been endemic corruption in Ukraine.” But, contradictory to other accounts, Perry said he never spoke about Biden during those conversations, nor did he hear the president do so.
“Others have said that Biden did come up, although that’s never with Secretary Perry present,” Adragna says.
In May, Perry took Vice President Pence’s place at the inauguration of President Zelensky. And as energy secretary, Perry regularly travels to to Eastern Europe to “spread U.S. energy diplomacy,” Adragna says.
“He’s been a central figure for those ties,” he says. “It’s unclear whether there were additional motivations from the administration to go – there’s been no evidence of that. But he certainly took a number of trips to the region as part of this ongoing U.S. energy diplomacy.”
While Perry hasn’t complied with the congressional subpoena, Adragna says that hasn’t deterred House Democrats.
“They’re not going to stop with their demands to try to get him to cooperate and to testify and to obey the subpoena,” Adragna says.
Written by Caroline Covington.