Former Bush DHS chief says Trump’s Ukraine call is an ‘abuse of power’

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Tuesday said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to ‘forever wars’ Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE‘s request for the leader of Ukraine to do him a “favor” represented a clear abuse of power.

“I am disappointed and troubled by the very fact that my president… would ask a foreign leader of a troubled country who’s been besieged by an enemy of the United States, to do him a political favor,” Ridge, who served under former President George W. Bush, told reporters on the sidelines of a renewable energy symposium in Harrisburg, Pa., according to PennLive.com. “As far as I’m concerned, it is abuse of power.”

The comments from Ridge, who also served as a Republican governor in Pennsylvania, came the same day House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against the president over his dealings with Ukraine. Democrats allege that Trump abused the power of his office and that he obstructed Congress as House committees proceeded with its impeachment inquiry.

The inquiry has centered around allegations that Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to open politically beneficial investigations and that he conditioned military aid on Ukraine announcing the probes.

Ridge, who did not back Trump in 2016, told reporters that he would not vote for the president in 2020. He also expressed openness to voting for the Democratic nominee if they had the appropriate “experience and demeanor and global perspective.”

“I’m going to wait and see what the Democrats do before I make my final decision.,” he said. “People know how I feel about Trump so obviously I will be looking for an alternative. If not, as I’ve said to folks before, I wrote in the names of two Republican governors before because I love [governors].”

“I’m a lifelong Republican. I don’t see myself publicly endorsing a Democrat. That’s for sure,” he added.

Ridge also strongly criticized Trump’s foreign policy, saying that he doesn’t understand how Trump thinks it’s in “America’s best interest to withdraw from economic global arrangements” and “military global arrangements.”

“[Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinPavlich: Impeachment does Russia’s bidding Russian diplomat says election meddling wasn’t discussed at White House, contradicting Trump Trump warned Russia’s foreign minister against election interference, White House says MORE] has got to be one of the happiest world leaders,” he added. “Even in his wildest imagination he never imagined when he played in our election in 2016, and he’s playing with it in 2019 and 2020, that he would have four years of incredible political destabilization because of what he did and he’ll keep doing it.”

Ridge served as the first head of the Department of Homeland Security from 2003-2005 following its creation in wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He has repeatedly spoken out over Trump administration policies on issues such as immigration over the last two-plus years.

“I don’t think that we advance ourselves toward a solution by politicizing the border by simply talking about a wall,” he told HillTV in June. “And not taking into consideration all the other dimensions of an immigration policy based on a 21st-century world, based on the technology we have, based on relationships we have with the leaders in the region. Those leaders have a responsibility to help us as well, and right now we’ve ignored them.”

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