As President Donald Trump’s administration blocked a U.S. diplomat from testifying in the impeachment investigation regarding Ukraine, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated Tuesday that there are "legitimate questions that have been asked based upon a whistleblower’s complaint."
Hutchinson served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1990s and was one of the Republican impeachment managers who led the investigation of President Bill Clinton.
U.S. European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland was prevented from answering questions from three House panels Tuesday, with President Trump saying on Twitter that Sondland "would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court." Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said subpoenas would be issued for Sondland and anyone else kept from testifying.
Speaking with reporters after getting a flu shot Tuesday at the state Capitol, Hutchinson said whether the administration can keep people from testifying and refuse to turn over documents could fall to a judge to decide.
"Whenever you look at the process the House is going through, there traditionally has been disputes over what is executive privilege, what is not. Sometimes these have to be resolved by the courts," Hutchinson said. The investigation is focused on the Trump Administration’s dealing with the president of Ukraine, including a phone call in which Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden’s family.
"I think the conversation was unwise, but it is a very serious thing to remove a president as the House is trying to investigate, and I think there’s not the support among the American people for that," Hutchinson said. "Questions have to be answered, but I hope that the House will act very carefully and not make it partisan, but to simply look at the facts and try to get the answers and then they can make a decision where to go from there."
Meanwhile China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday that the country would not accept Trump’s request that China investigate Biden and his son Hunter. Regarding Trump’s request, Hutchinson said he didn’t know whether the president was serious.
"Half the things he says seems to be to get people’s attention or to startle folks. But no, I don’t believe we ought to be asking for China’s help in terms of investigations," Hutchinson said.
The governor said there are times when it is appropriate "to utilize other countries to carry out legitimate investigations on corruption. Those communications generally go through the attorney general, the Justice Department and normal channels."
Hutchinson said the key focus of U.S. and China diplomacy should be to resolve trade disputes which could impact crops grown in Arkansas.