How GOP lawmakers are responding to the whistleblower complaint

WASHINGTON – Several Republican lawmakers have come to President Donald Trump's defense amid House Democrats opening an impeachment inquiry after the revelation that Trump urged Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

However, a handful of Republicans have expressed concern over Trump's actions following the public release of a whistleblower complaint. 

The complaint, which was withheld from Congress until after the White House published a summary of Trump's call with Zelensky, expresses concern that Trump "used the power of his office" to solicit foreign help to discredit Biden during his call with the Ukrainian president.

More:Top moments from acting DNI Joseph Maguire's testimony about the Trump whistleblower complaint

More:'Deeply disturbing': Lawmakers read whistleblower complaint at center of Trump-Ukraine scandal

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, tweeted Thursday that after reading the complaint, he believes the allegations from the whistleblower need to be fully investigated.

"There is a lot in the whistleblower complaint that is concerning," Hurd wrote. "We need to fully investigate all of the allegations addressed in the letter, and the first step is to talk to the whistleblower."

Hurd, a former CIA officer, is not seeking re-election next year.

Another Republican lawmaker described Trump's conversation with Zelensky as "not OK."

Ohio Rep. Mike Turner's comments came during the testimony of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire spoke before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday, where Maguire said he delayed sending the complaint to Congress because Trump’s conversation with Zelensky is considered confidential under executive privilege.

"I've read the complaint and I've read the transcript of the conversation with the president and the president of the Ukraine," Turner said. "Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president: This is not OK. That conversation is not OK."

"I think it's disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript," he continued.

Turner's comments were at odds with several other Republican lawmakers. Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said the whistleblower complaint was part of an "information warfare operation against the president." 

Several GOP lawmakers have said they have not yet read the complaint. Congress leaves for a two week recess Friday.

White House memo on Trump's call with Zelensky

Prior to the release of the complaint, some Republicans were critical of the White House summary of the call between Trump and Zelensky.

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who has been critical of the president in the past, said Wednesday morning that he found the call "deeply troubling."

“My reaction was the same as I had a few days ago which is that this remains deeply troubling,” he said during The Atlantic Festival. “And we’ll see where it leads.”

Although Romney would not say whether he supported impeachment, he said he believes that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will "do whatever she thinks is in the best interest of the country."

More:Trump administration releases details of call with Ukrainian President Zelensky amid impeachment inquiry

Romney, who had previously said reports of Trump urging a foreign power to probe a political rival was “troubling in the extreme,” declined to say Wednesday what the consequences of the news would be other than the impeachment inquiry Pelosi has called for.

“The consequences are being considered by the House – and I'm not going to give advice to Speaker Pelosi,” he continued. "She's going to do whatever she thinks is in the best interests of the country and in the best interests of her position of power and her party. And she's pursuing that. We'll see where that leads.”

Another Republican who has been critical of Trump also said the nature of the call was "really, really bad."

“In general terms, American elections should be for Americans," Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska told the National Review. "And the idea that we would have foreign nation-states coming into the American electoral process, or the information surrounding an election, is really, really bad."

Sasse also said Wednesday that he wants "any and all relevant information" on the situation.

“That’s not to deny that certain pieces of this probably are susceptible to a claim of [executive] privilege, but I think it’s in the country’s interest, and I think it’s in the president’s interest, and the interest of public and civil health," Sasse told the National Review.

Sasse added that right now there aren't enough "underlying facts yet" and he doesn't support speculating over "highly particular hypotheticals."

However, those lawmakers appeared to be outliers as several top Republicans and Trump allies have condemned the Democrats for moving forward on impeachment.

More:Read the summary of President Trump's call with Ukraine president about Biden

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters Wednesday morning that "from a quid pro quo aspect of the phone call, there's nothing there."

"From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane," he said. 

Graham went on to suggest that Biden should be investigated instead.

Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, said Wednesday that the transcript shows "no quid pro quo."

"The bottom line here is that in this transcript there is no quid pro quo, there is no improper leverage and the overall tone of this transcript is that it is mutual laudatory," he told MSNBC.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who is also a Trump ally and is the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, in a statement accused Democrats of rushing "to judgment based solely on unsubstantiated, indirect, and anonymous allegations."

"The transcript of the president's phone call shows no wrongdoing," he continued. "The real scandal here is that Democrats are using this issue to distract from wrongdoing by Vice President Biden and his son as they continue to relitigate the 2016 election and attempt to undo the will of the American people."