According to Axios, President Trump told House Republicans during a conference call Friday that he was urged by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to make his July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump told fellow party members that “not a lot of people know this, but I didn’t even want to make the call,” a source who was on the conference call told the news outlet.
“The only reason I made the call was because Rick asked me to. Something about an LNG [liquified natural gas] plant,” Trump added.
The president’s comments put a twist on the narrative surrounding House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Text messages between White House officials and former Zelensky aide Andriy Yermak were released earlier this week. None of the messages suggest that Perry was the reason behind Trump’s phone call.
Perry headed a U.S. delegation to Ukraine in May for Zelensky’s inauguration but reportedly told the Christian Broadcasting Network that “as God is my witness” neither former Vice President Joe Biden nor his son Hunter Biden came up in conversation.
“Secretary Perry absolutely supported and encouraged the president to speak to the new president of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development,” Perry’s spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told Axios.
Perry is reportedly set to resign from his position as Energy secretary at the end of the year.