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GOP senators discuss impeachment with Trump after House vote

A group of nine Republican senators discussed the ongoing impeachment proceedings with President Trump at the White House Thursday, shortly after the House passed a resolution laying out the rules for the impeachment inquiry.

Trump reiterated some of the same points he’s made publicly in recent days to defend himself from the House probe, according to senators who were present.

He urged GOP senators to read the recreated transcript the White House released of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which spurred the House to take action.

Trump has argued in recent weeks that the transcript shows the call was innocent and there was no effort to propose a quid pro quo in exchange for Zelensky agreeing to investigate Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

It’s the second time in two weeks Trump has summoned a group of Republican senators to the White House for a private discussion in an apparent effort to keep his relations with the Senate GOP conference strong. The upper chamber could try him for articles of impeachment early next year.

Trump characterized the meeting to senators as a chance to “talk to folks, hear what’s on people’s minds,” according to a senator who attended.

“We discussed a variety of topics, including impeachment,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who attended the meeting.

Asked about Trump’s specific message on impeachment, Hawley said he repeated “everything that he said in public.”

“Read the transcript. That’s what he said,” Hawley added, describing the president as “upbeat” and “positive.”

Trump expressed confidence that the recreated transcript would clear him of allegations of wrongdoing and indicated that he felt justified by making it public.

“He said a number of times he was really glad there was a transcript and that he was really glad he released it,” Hawley said.

The senators did not discuss with Trump the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who told House investigators earlier this week that the White House edited the transcript of the Zelensky call to remove explicit references to Biden and Burisma Holdings, which paid Biden’s son tens of thousands of dollars to serve on its board.

Asked if Trump feels Republicans are doing enough to defend him, the GOP senator said the topic did not come up.

Instead, the president mentioned the two House Democrats who voted against the resolution: Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (D-N.J.).

The meeting’s attendees were: Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

Brett Samuels contributed to this report.

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