Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has defended President Trump‘s call with the Ukrainian president, a focal point of the House impeachment inquiry, saying that Trump seemed like a “normal person” on the call.
Graham, a top ally of Trump’s, told The Washington Post that he expected the call to be worse considering his own experiences on the phone with the president. He added that Trump often breaks from protocol.
“If you take half of my phone calls with him, it wouldn’t read as cleanly and nicely,” he said, adding that Trump sounded like a “normal person.”
His comments were made in a wide-ranging Post story about how some Trump aides have expressed concern over the president’s calls to foreign leaders.
The story cited 12 former or current officials who were directly involved, had been briefed or read transcripts of the calls.
It comes amid scrutiny of Trump’s July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he pushed the foreign leader to look into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Trump’s efforts surrounding Ukraine spurred House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry last week.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me,” Trump was quoted as saying in a rough transcript of the call that was released by the White House last week.
The Post reported Friday that officials had been concerned for a while before revelations of the president’s dealings with Ukraine surfaced last month.
Aides were reportedly concerned that Trump would make promises he couldn’t carry out, underwrite policies the U.S. has been opposed to or make a diplomatic mistake that could threaten an alliance.
“There was a constant undercurrent in the Trump administration of [senior staff] who were genuinely horrified by the things they saw that were happening on these calls,” one former White House official told the newspaper.
“Phone calls that were embarrassing, huge mistakes he made, months and months of work that were upended by one impulsive tweet,” the former official added.
One conversation that reportedly alarmed officials was Trump’s call to Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly after taking office in early 2017, in which Trump was “obsequious” and “fawning,” former officials told The Post.
“We couldn’t figure out early on why he was being so nice to Russia,” one former senior administration official reportedly said. Then-national security adviser H.R. McMaster reportedly tried to make Trump more skeptical of the country.
The newspaper also noted an instance in which Trump asked Putin for advice in becoming friends with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment about the report.