Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he never had – or at least doesn’t recall having – a conversation with President Donald Trump in which he described Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as perfect.
McConnell’s statement comes after Trump asserted earlier this month that McConnell deemed the White House transcript of the conversation, which is at the center of the House’s impeachment inquiry into the President, completely innocent. Trump has also said multiple times that the call was perfect, including during his Cabinet meeting on Monday.
McConnell, asked at his weekly news conference in the Capitol if he believed the President handled the Ukrainian situation perfectly, said, “We’ve not had any conversations on that subject.”
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When pushed on whether Trump was lying about an exchange between the pair, the Kentucky Republican responded, “You have to ask him. I don’t recall any conversations with the President about that phone call.”
Trump implied in early October that McConnell and others with whom he had discussed the transcript reached similar conclusions that the call was appropriate.
“He read my phone call with the President of Ukraine,” Trump said at the time. “Mitch McConnell, he said, ‘That was the most innocent phone call that I’ve read.’ I mean, give me a break. Anybody that reads it says the same thing.”
On the July call with Zelensky, Trump pressured the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden, his potential 2020 rival. Trump has pushed an unproven accusation that then-Vice President Biden improperly tried to help his son, Hunter, by pressuring the Ukrainian government to fire the country’s prosecutor general. Hunter Biden served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company at the time.
The Obama administration, American allies, the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, among others, had all made clear that they were displeased with the performance of Viktor Shokin, who became prosecutor general in 2015. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
McConnell previously urged the White House to release a transcript of the call, The Washington Post reported last month. In the past, McConnell’s staff has declined to verify if Trump’s claims were valid.
CNN’s Daniel Dale contributed to this report.