Portman Also Doesn’t Dispute Trump’s Characterization of Emoluments Clause as “Phony”
COLUMBUS — Rob Portman is part of an exclusive club in the U.S. Senate — just seven senators are saying they would rule out impeachment, and Portman is one of the seven who apparently already has his mind made up, even before he has a chance to consider the findings of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
“Donald Trump has already deployed Rob Portman as part of his Ukraine cover story, proudly bragging that Rob ‘backed me up,’ and now Rob is part of a small minority of senators who is saying they have already ruled out voting for impeachment,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “As the co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Rob was in a position to know exactly what happened as the White House held up military aid to the Ukraine until its leaders made a public statement about investigating one of Trump’s political opponents. Rob’s attempts to play dumb are laughable. Our nation’s true public servants are coming forward and telling the truth about what they saw and heard and how it disturbed them to see the gross abuse of power being committed by the president and his lackeys. It’s time for Rob to reveal what he knew and when he knew it in the Ukraine scandal.”
“On the emoluments clause, I used to be an ethics lawyer at the White House, so it’s there in the Constitution. You know, there are a lot of gray areas there honestly because it’s been litigated, and a lot of things haven’t been resolved. So I get what he’s saying there that it is, it’s not clear.”
January 2019 — Giuliani meets with the Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko. (Giuliani admitted to the meeting in a July 2019 story for the New Yorker and told the New York Times that he called Trump during their first meeting.)
Jan. 15, 2019 — Portman tweets that he met with Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, to discuss “the latest developments in #Ukraine.”
Jan. 15, 2019 — Portman votes to let the Trump administration ease sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. One day earlier he had told CNN he would “be more on that side” of supporting sanctions.
Jan. 30, 2019 — Portman endorses Trump, saying he gets “a lot done … with him.”
March 20, 2019 — The Hill publishes a dubious story sourced to Lutsenko that gets bounced around the right-wing media echo chamber and conservative Twitter (including Donald Trump Jr.).
April 21, 2019 — Zelensky is elected as Ukraine’s next president.
April 29, 2019 — The whistleblower learns that Yovanovitch was being “suddenly recalled” — and Giuliani tells Ukrainian media that it’s because of her “efforts against the president.”
May 6, 2019 — The State Department announces that Yovanovitch is leaving her post early. Democratic lawmakers call her removal a “political hit job.”
May 9, 2019 — Giuliani admits to the New York Times that he is “meddling in an investigation” in Ukraine.
June 5, 2019 — Portman delivers a floor speech about his trip to Ukraine.
“I told President Zelensky that he is now the face of reform in Ukraine and indeed for those of us watching around the world. He acknowledged that with a smile and said, ‘I know.’ He said that his commitment to reform is real, but he also had no illusions about how hard reform will be, and I am very hopeful he will have the continued courage to see it through, whether we are talking about fighting corruption, more transparency in government or civilian control of the military. He understands it is the only path forward and frankly a linchpin of the U.S. partnership with Ukraine, and as a matter of law, a condition of our future defense assistance.”
June 19, 2019 — Portman questions the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
July 25, 2019 — Trump has his infamous call with Zelensky.
Sept. 1, 2019 — Vice President Mike Pence meets with Zelensky in Poland. The next day Pence is asked if the Trump administration is holding up funding because of efforts to “dig up dirt on the Biden family.” Pence responds that “Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.”
Sept. 5, 2019 — The Washington Post pens an editorial making crystal clear that Trump “is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”
Sept. 11, 2019 — Portman calls Trump to ask him to release the funds.
Sept. 12, 2019 — Trump releases the funding.
Sept. 25, 2019 — Portman tells a reporter for Spectrum News 1 that he doesn’t believe Trump’s behavior crossed a line.
Oct. 2, 2019 — Trump says, “Rob Portman backed me up … I gave the money because Rob Portman and others called me and asked.”
Oct. 7, 2019 — Portman says, “The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period. It’s not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent.”
Oct. 17, 2019 — Portman says, “I don’t know why the president would turn to [Giuliani]. I’ve never talked to Giuliani about anything to do with the Ukraine.”
Oct. 18, 2019 — Kasich comes out in favor of impeachment.
Oct. 22, 2019 — Portman says, “There are a lot of gray areas” on emoluments in response to a question about Trump’s statement that the emoluments clause was “phony.”