MIAMI, Okla. — Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin said Friday he is “100% OK” with President Donald Trump’s request that the president of Ukraine investigate corruption charges against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
The request is included in a memorandum on a telephone conversation between Trump and Volodymr Zelenskiy released by the White House last month. The memorandum is described as not a word-for-word transcription but very close to a verbatim account.
This was the first of several meetings Mullin has scheduled over the next two weeks with constituents in his district. He has billed them as “impeachment updates.”
Mullin said Trump asked Zelenskiy to look into the Bidens because he believed the Bidens may have done something illegal and not because Trump viewed Joe Biden — the leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee according to most polling — as a political threat.
“You really think Joe Biden has any chance of being president?” Mullin said following a public presentation on impeachment at the Miami Chamber of Commerce.
Asked whether he would have the same response if President Barack Obama had made a similar request involving Trump or 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Mullin said the situations would be different because Biden was vice president at the time of the alleged corruption.
The accusations against the Bidens stem from Hunter Biden’s appointment to the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company while Joe Biden was vice president.
Published accounts differ on the exact nature of the Bidens’ activities, but Mullin said inside information leads him to believe that Trump was right to ask for Ukraine to investigate further.
The matter is at the heart of the impeachment investigation of Trump. Critics, including most congressional Democrats, say the call amounted to a veiled threat to withhold $400 million in aid to Ukraine if it did not do Trump’s bidding.
Trump’s defenders point out he never explicitly linked compliance with his request to the foreign aid.
The aid, in fact, was withheld for some time, although there is disagreement as to why.
The 25-30 people who came to hear Mullin’s impeachment update Friday were attentive but did not appear unduly worked up about the issue. The most animated discussion dealt with area residents’ disputes with the Grand River Dam Authority and Sen. Jim Inhofe.
In his presentation, Mullin reiterated the Republican position that the Democratic majority is treating Trump and the GOP minority unfairly by limiting access to the investigation’s hearings and testimony.
“What concerns me, and it should concern everybody ... is if they can do this to the president of the United States, our commander and chief, don’t kid yourself that you can’t be railroaded, too,” said Mullin.
As it turns out, Democrats and other Trump critics make a similar argument — that one president using his position to direct investigations against specific individuals enables all future presidents to do the same.
Mullin, though, says Trump was merely trying to get to the bottom of one set of accusations.
Ukraine has been a source of trouble for current and former politicians of all stripes in recent years. Trump’s one-time campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is serving time in federal prison on charges stemming from his activities in that country. Lobbyist Tony Podesta, the brother of Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff, John Podesta, and his associate Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman, became embroiled in a Ukrainian corruption scandal in which they were recently cleared of wrongdoing.
And two associates of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, were recently arrested on charges they funneled foreign money into U.S. elections. The two reportedly have Ukrainian connections and had been involved in trying to find evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.
Additional meetings scheduled by Mullin include: 9:15 a.m. Tuesday, Connors State College-Muskogee Auditorium, 2501 N. 41st St. E., Muskogee; noon Wednesday, Mid-America Industrial Park Expo Center, 4075 Sanders Mitchell Road, Pryor; 11 a.m. Thursday, 100 John Russell Building, 425 W. University, Southeastern State University, Durant.