He also said on ABC’s “This Week” that having White House officials testify in the impeachment inquiry would benefit Trump, but could also set a dangerous precedent.
The Republican member of the Judiciary Committee told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos he believed Trump acted on his long-held skepticism about foreign aid and worries about corruption in Ukraine, as well as about the connection between former Vice President Joe Biden‘s son and the Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
“I think the president was acting on a sincere, longly held view and skepticism of foreign aid,” he said. “I think he was acting on concern about Ukraine being the third most corrupt country in the world.”
.@GStephanopoulos: Can you explain to the American people why you think it’s OK for the president to ask a foreign nation to investigate a political opponent?
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 8, 2019
Gaetz added that he thought having Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testify in the impeachment inquiry would help the president’s defense but expressed concerns about the precedent the testimony would set.
“I think it would inure to the president’s advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him, but they — we want to preserve an executive branch where there are out-of-the-box strategy sessions where people come up with crazy ideas and reject those ideas and hone them,” he said.
The House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into the president after a whistleblower complained Trump asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden and his son, days after military aid was withheld from the country.
Republicans have maintained the president’s ask reflected Trump’s goals of combating corruption and preventing U.S. funds from going to corrupt states.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced last week that the House will move forward and draft articles of impeachment.