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Sen. Rob Portman: Trump 'is listening' and Mitt Romney should remain a Republican - News - The Columbus Dispatch


COLUMBUS – Ohio Sen. Rob Portman doesn’t expect any future Congressional investigations into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine but said the president is “listening” to his and others’ concerns about them.

“All the information’s out there so I think he’s listening, I really do,” Portman said. “And I do think it will have an impact.”

Portman shrugged off Trump’s comments at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning, when the president praised “courageous Republican politicians and leaders” and referred to impeachment supporters as “some very dishonest and corrupt people.”

Portman said Trump’s prayer breakfast comments were about broader concerns about the impeachment process, such as leaks and closed-door interviews.

Portman has said for several months it was inappropriate and wrong for Trump to suggest an investigation of Democratic rival Joe Biden in relation to releasing aid to Ukraine. But that didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense for Portman and other Republicans who have publicly admonished the president’s actions.

Trump celebrated the acquittal Thursday with digs at Democrats and praise for supporters – a stark contrast to former President Bill Clinton, who apologized after a Democratic-controlled Senate acquitted him.

The White House has claimed “full vindication” after the trial. Asked whether he agreed with that description, Portman said, “He was acquitted. I don’t know what the difference is. He was acquitted.”

Portman spoke briefly with reporters after an 80-minute discussion with representatives of central Ohio housing agencies and nonprofits. He reiterated his concerns with Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and said the Senate made the right call to acquit. Portman said the nation’s founders intended for impeachment to be a high bar and now the voters have the opportunity to decide.

“I think the action that we’ve taken in the Senate was appropriate,” Portman said. “And again, all the information is out there and there are some of us who have, in clear terms, described our concerns and that’s appropriate.”

Portman also defended fellow Republican Mitt Romney, who is facing criticism and calls to leave the party over his vote to impeach the president.

“He was my friend before; he was my friend after,” Portman said. “We disagreed on this one. He’s a smart, capable former governor who has a lot of good policy ideas on issues and I think he’ll be an important part of our caucus.”

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