Rick Perry, Pete Sessions caught up in Ukraine controversy
DALLAS - The former UN Ambassador to Ukraine testified behind closed doors in the impeachment investigation spearheaded by House Democrats.
The former ambassador is someone former Congressman Pete Sessions wanted removed from her position when he was in the House.
And Sessions is allegedly linked by a federal indictment to a campaign finance scheme rooted in the impeachment inquiry.
That indictment does not name Pete Sessions, but connects him to activity by the two men arrested this week on campaign finance violations, who attempted to leave the country.
The pair is also accused of engaging in political activities tied to Marie Yovanovicth's removal as Ambassador to Ukraine
Yovanovitch, who Sessions asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to remove from her position, testified in a closed door congressional hearing days after the arrests of two Sessions’ campaign donors.
The men are accused in a federal indictment of funneling foreign money into U.S. campaigns.
According to the indictment, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman provided "congressman one," identified as Session, contributions that align with Sessions’ efforts to have the former ambassador outed.
Sessions, who is hoping to return to Congress from a Waco area district, has denied wrongdoing, and said in a statement: " if I am ‘Congressman One’, I could not have had any knowledge of the scheme described in the indictment or have involvement or coordination of it. "
“Well it’s not clear that Sessions actually did anything wrong, but even if he's not culpable for wrongdoing, having his name associated with this brewing national scandal is not helpful as he's trying to establish himself in a new district,” SMU political science professor Matthew Wilson said.
Sessions has said he and other Republicans wanted Yovanovicth out because they believed she was disparaging President Donald Trump.
“We have a lot of concerns about this witness,” said U.S. Rep. David Nunes. (R-Ca.) “It was well known, we've had several, both former U.S. officials and current U.S. officials, come to us and tell us this was a very partisan ambassador. And so we'll want to get her on the record, did she support the Trump administration?”
Energy Secretary Rick Perry admitted he encouraged President Trump to call the Ukranian president.
But he says the call’s purpose was about energy and the economy, and not about the allegations the President threatened to withhold military aid if Ukraine would not investigate business dealings of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Democrat House leaders have subpoenaed some of Perry's documents.
“Rick Perry is, I don’t think, on the hook for any sort of criminal involvement here,” Wilson added. “The reality here is that lots of people, both Democrats and Republicans, have seen that there's money to be made in the Ukraine.”