Trump opponents are 'chasing the ghost' on impeachment, Energy Secretary Rick Perry says

Key Points
  • U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry tells CNBC that  President Trump won't face full impeachment proceedings.
  • Perry describes efforts to further an investigation related to talks with Ukraine officials, including a call to the country's president, as "chasing the ghost."
  • Perry adds he doesn't know if Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has become a political liability.
Trump opponents are 'chasing the ghost' on impeachment: Rick Perry

The outgoing U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said he does not believe that U.S. President Donald Trump will be formally impeached, even though political opponents are clearly determined to "harm" him.

Trump is denying allegations that he tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter in an effort to damage Biden's 2020 Democratic presidential bid.

Now, and for only the fourth time in history, the House of Representatives has started a presidential impeachment inquiry. House committees are trying to determine if Trump's call to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, violated his oath of office by asking a foreign country to investigate a political opponent.

Perry, who is on a trip to Dubai, told CNBC's Hadley Gamble on Saturday that he didn't think Trump would eventually face articles of impeachment.

"No, not at all. This is as a big a 'chasing the ghost' as I've seen before," said Perry.

"People so dislike this president in a political way that they will spend whatever it takes, even to the point of giving up their own reputations, to try to harm him," the energy secretary added.

Perry said he has been in many meetings with Ukrainian officials and the real goal was always to try to give the country access to energy which didn't come from Russia.

Rudy Giuliani — the president's private attorney — has taken a lead role in communications with some officials in Ukraine. When asked if Giuliani had become a political liability to Trump, Perry said "I don't know," before adding that it is often important to take advice from outside of political administrations.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on America's role in the Middle East

Perry and Ukraine

Trump has previously claimed that he only made a telephone call to Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, at the urging of Perry. A spokesperson at Perry's department has confirmed this, but also stressed that he had only suggested to Trump that he discuss energy security with the Ukrainian leader.

The publicly released memo which offered some detail on the exchanges between Trump and Zelensky didn't reference energy — instead, focusing on Trump's request that Ukrainian authorities investigate Hunter Biden, the son of political rival and presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Perry was subpoenaed on October 10 by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees which are all conducting an impeachment inquiry into the White House's actions toward Ukraine.

The demand for documents and testimony had an October 18 deadline which Perry reportedly failed to meet. The energy secretary had earlier told CNBC that he would decide to comply with the subpoena on the advice of White House lawyers.

Perry, who is set to leave his post at the end of this year, has served as the energy secretary since the beginning of the Trump administration in 2017.

He has said the timing was right for him to leave Washington and return to his home state of Texas.