WASHINGTON – The impeachment web could take hold of Energy Secretary Rick Perry as Congress focuses on his ties to Ukraine.
"I've probably had as expansive a relationship with Ukraine as anybody in the administration, certainly in the cabinet-level," Secretary Perry tells CBN News in an exclusive interview.
As chief of the nation's energy agency, he focuses a lot of time on Ukraine.
"Our interest was always and still is trying to help Ukraine become as independent as it can be from an energy standpoint. They've been held hostage by Russians, by Russian gas," he explains.
Now comes word from President Trump that the infamous phone call with the Ukrainian president came at Perry's urging.
In a statement to CBN News, Perry's spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes says, "Secretary Perry absolutely supported and encouraged the president to speak to the new president of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development."
In our interview, Perry told CBN News he's personally discussed Ukrainian corruption with President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and several ambassadors.
We asked if former Vice President Joe Biden ever factored into his conversations.
"Not once as God as my witness, not once was a Biden name - not the former vice president, not his son - ever mentioned. Corruption was talked about in the country, but it was always a relatively vague term of, you know, the oligarchs and this and that and what have you. But I'm quite comfortable. Matter of fact, I'm extremely comfortable that not once did the president of the United States, or any of his administration or his team ever talk about with the intent there was some quid pro quo," he explains.
Instead, he says, the administration is intensely focused on getting Ukraine to clean up its own business culture.
"The message was clear, you clean up the corruption and the United States will be certainly willing to come in and help you. I can't go in good faith and tell a US company, go and invest here, go and be involved if the corruption is ongoing," Perry says.
Despite all the scrutiny, the secretary traveled to Lithuania Sunday to meet with Ukrainian and other regional leaders to discuss energy security.
"I think this is obviously the continued attempt to take this president any way they can because they don't like the way the election turned out in 2016," he surmises.
Regardless, Perry will likely remain under a microscope for the foreseeable future.