How Rick Perry Became a Key Figure in Impeachment

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who is resigning from his position later this year, is among the key figures in the middle of the impeachment inquiry.  Perry led the US delegation to Ukraine at the inauguration in May of President Zelenskiy, and it was Perry who urged Trump to make the infamous phone call to Zelenskiy in July at the heart of the impeachment probe. The longest serving governor in Texas history has a reputation of being a master politician.

“He took being a wheeler-dealer basically to the level of an art form,” Braddock says. “Perry was somebody who would always figure out the way to get what he wanted.”

Initially a Trump critic, there was irony in his appointment to assume control of one of the three federal departments he intended to eliminate as a candidate for President.  Remember the “oops” moment?  As energy secretary, Perry has focused on opening US gas and oil –specifically “freedom gas” or liquefied natural gas– to the global market.  While Ukraine has typically depended on natural gas from Russia, Perry focused on the capability of the US to replace Russian gas with US gas.

And so, it was Perry who replaced VP Mike Pence as one of the “three amigos” who, along with Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker attended the inauguration of the new president of Ukraine.  When Perry returned he asked Trump to call Zelenskiy to discuss options.  He saw Zelenskiy as a “reformer.”  But Trump instructed him to visit with Rudy Giuliani, who explained that Trump was concerned that there were people in Ukraine who were trying to beat him in the 2016 election.

“One thing that was not mentioned, Perry told The Wall Street Journal, was the name Biden.

“Never,” Perry said emphatically, as he pounded the table in the interview. “Not in one conversation. Not from the president. Not from Gordon Sondland. Not from Kurt Volker. Not from anybody on the Zelenskiy team did I ever hear the name Biden. Never. Not once.”

As House Democrats have subpoenaed communications from Perry about Ukraine, the Energy Department has refused to comply, calling the impeachment inquiry a charade.

Meanwhile, there are questions about Ukraine’s state-controlled oil and gas company, Naftogaz, rife with corruption and rich with Ukraine’s oligarchs.  This is where business associates of Rudy Giuliani’s enter, attempting to interfere with management at Naftogaz and trying to get significant gas contracts funneled their way.  Perry has also been questioned about his interests in Naftogaz and whether he was attempting to shake up a friendlier management team.  Perry says he simply gave names of American energy experts who could advise them. 

Now Perry is involved in the impeachment inquiry, not cooperating with the investigation, and leaving his position at the Energy Department.

Read here at NPR