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Republican Rep. Andy Harris Weighs In On Call Between Trump And Ukraine's President


Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are defending the president today, like Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland, who is a co-chair of the House Ukraine Caucus. Congressman, we have invited a lot of Republicans to speak with us on the program today, and we had many no responses, so we appreciate your joining us this afternoon.

ANDY HARRIS: Sure. Absolutely.

SHAPIRO: You had wanted to see the transcript of President Trump's call with the Ukrainian leader. The White House has now released this memo describing the call. Does anything in this account concern you?

HARRIS: No, to be honest with you. You know, the play up to this by the speaker of the House yesterday basically made one think that this was entirely about Vice President Biden and, somehow, there was a quid pro quo, you know, withholding - explicitly withholding defense money in order to initiate the investigation. And one reads the transcript, and it's - that's not at all what it says.

So again, I urge all of your listeners, go read the transcript for yourself, and what you'll realize is that exactly what the Ukrainian president said is right. There was no real pressure. There certainly was no quid pro quo. And the real ask that the president made was actually to investigate CrowdStrike...

SHAPIRO: Well, let's go through this account of the call.

HARRIS: ...A totally different issue.

SHAPIRO: First, the president says, we do a lot for Ukraine. Then, a few minutes later, he says, I would like you to do us a favor. And then a few minutes later, he says there's a lot of talk about Biden's son. And he asks the Ukrainian president to talk with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, not the secretary of state, who would be the ordinary channel for these kinds of conversations. That doesn't strike you as problematic?

HARRIS: Actually, let's put it in context, and that's why I urge your listeners to read it for themselves. The president says, I'd like to do you a - I'd like you to do us a favor, but then talks about CrowdStrike. He's not talking about Biden. President Zelenskiy...

SHAPIRO: There is a passing reference to CrowdStrike...

HARRIS: Hold on. Hold on.

SHAPIRO: ...Which people should know CrowdStrike is...

HARRIS: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.

SHAPIRO: Our listeners have not heard of CrowdStrike, so I need to explain to them...


SHAPIRO: ...That it is the company that helped investigate the Russian hack of the 2016 election. Please go ahead.

HARRIS: Correct. And there was a question about whether the investigation was correct. And it has nothing to do with Joe Biden. And then the - President Zelenskiy says, OK, yeah, you know, we will investigate that company. And then only later, the president says, and, oh, by the way, there was - you know, Mr. Biden bragged about stopping this prosecutor. And there is no mention of Rudy Giuliani talking about that. He says, whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. So let's get the facts straight.

SHAPIRO: That also seems questionable. Let me ask you about President Trump mentioning...

HARRIS: That's not questionable. It's on Page 4 in the first paragraph. There's no question...

SHAPIRO: Let me ask you about...

HARRIS: ...That's exactly what it says.

SHAPIRO: Let me ask you about President Trump's repeated references to the attorney general, Bill Barr, because, of course, world leaders ordinarily interact with the secretary of state, the nation's top diplomat, not the attorney general, who is supposed to have a degree of independence from the White House. Why do you think the president was asking Ukraine's leader to talk to the attorney general?

HARRIS: Because usually, attorney generals investigate corruption. I mean, they're the experts in investigating corruption, not the secretary of state. This president...

SHAPIRO: Not of the president's political rival, typically. The president's domestic political rival generally would not be, you know, a subject of the attorney general's investigation at the request of the president.

HARRIS: The - again, the president says quite explicitly in the letter that Vice President Biden himself bragged about getting this prosecutor fired. The vice president has admitted that he actually held a billion dollars in aid as hostage in order to get this prosecutor fired. So now...

SHAPIRO: I need to read you a quote from Tom Malinowski, who is now a Democrat in Congress representing New Jersey but says, "I was an assistant secretary of state when this happened. All of us working on Ukraine wanted this prosecutor gone because he was not prosecuting corruption. So did the Europeans. So did the IMF, the International Monetary Fund. This did not come from Joe Biden. He just delivered our message," end quote.

HARRIS: Then let's see the transcripts from Mr. Biden's conversations. The president released his transcript. Let's see Vice President Biden's transcript. I think any investigation would have to be fair going to the root of it. You know, the son of Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, was paid up to $50,000 a month by a corrupt oligarch and...

SHAPIRO: But we're talking about the man in the White House, who has the power of the federal government behind him. And I just have to ask in our last minute whether you would be responding the same way if we were discussing a call where President Obama, a Democrat, asked a foreign leader for dirt on a Republican opponent?

HARRIS: What I want is investigation of the - of Mr. Obama's vice president, whose son was earning up to $50,000 a month, whether or not it was appropriate to withhold a billion dollars in foreign aid to get the prosecutor fired whose job was to actually investigate the company that hired Hunter Biden.

SHAPIRO: That is Congressman Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland.

Thank you for joining us today.

HARRIS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.