Energy Secretary Rick Perry emphatically denied anything improper occurred as part of the Trump administration’s efforts in Ukraine and said he was comfortable consulting with the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani in those pursuits.
In a pair of interviews broadcast Friday, Perry defended the administration’s efforts in Ukraine — he was known as one of the administration’s “three amigos” on Ukrainian policy — as a genuine effort to fight general corruption in the country and said he never heard any effort to seek political ammunition against former Vice President Joe Biden now at the center of an impeachment inquiry in the House. Perry, who announced his resignation Thursday, said he would follow the advice of Energy Department lawyers on how to respond to a congressional subpoena by Friday’s deadline.
“There was no quid pro quo in the sense of what those folks out there would like for it to be: We’re [not] going to give you this money unless you go investigate Joe Biden and his son,” Perry said. “I never heard that said anywhere, anytime in any conversation.”
“Never heard the Bidens name at one time,” he added. “Not with anyone.”
Perry said he was comfortable working with Giuliani at Trump’s direction, adding he commonly consulted with non-governmental experts while serving as governor of Texas.
“I respect the State Department but I happen to know people in the energy industry that are smarter than the State Department folks,” Perry said. “I didn’t see a problem with that at all.”
Perry said he pressed Trump to make the now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but defended the administration’s efforts to root out corruption in that country as “completely and absolutely legitimate.”
“I pushed on him a lot to make that phone call because I became convinced that Zelensky, the people around him were legitimately trying to get rid of the corruption and get off the Russian gas,” he said, referring to Ukraine’s reliance on Russia for its natural gas supplies.
Perry added that he also pushed former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on those issues.
Asked if any crime would be found by congressional investigators, Perry said “no” and described his relationship with Trump as “awesome.”
Perry didn’t answer whether he would comply with a congressional subpoena or provide testimony as part of the ongoing impeachment inquiry. The deadline for complying with that subpoena is today.
“I’m going to rely upon our general counsel to give me advice,” he said.
The energy secretary also said his departure from Trump’s Cabinet later this year had nothing to do with the swirling impeachment scandal engulfing the presidency.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with Ukraine,” Perry said of his departure, adding he’s been thinking over the last eight or nine months about moving onto “the next adventure in life.”
Perry subsequently said he believed the White House would allow him to follow the advice of the DOE’s Office of General Counsel, led by Bill Cooper, if lawyers recommended he comply with the subpoena.
“I’m going to follow the lead of the DOE counsel, and I’m sure working in concert with the White House counsel and regardless of what the president may have said a week ago about this, I think he will respect that position.”
Perry said he would respond “on time today” to the subpoena and would “follow the advice of my lawyers” at DOE.
In addition, Perry said he was not aware the White House sent him to Zelensky’s inauguration in place of Vice President Mike Pence.
“I had no idea that the vice president was even tapped to do it to begin with. I’m off doing my work in other places and they call up and say, ‘Hey, can you go?’ And we looked at the schedule and said, ‘Yes we can,'” Perry said in the interview.