- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2019

President Trump told Texas supporters late Thursday that Rick Perry, their former governor, has done a terrific job and plans to step down as his energy secretary by the end of the year.

“Rick Perry — couldn’t have done a better job,” Mr. Trump told supporters in Dallas.

Mr. Perry, who’s led the Energy Department since March 2017, told Mr. Trump aboard Air Force One on the way to Texas that he plans to resign.

Mr. Perry, a former Texas governor, is facing scrutiny as part of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told House investigators on Thursday that he, Mr. Perry and former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker resentfully dealt with Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, in handling Ukraine because they wanted to improve relations between the U.S. and the Eastern European country.

Democrats have subpoenaed Mr. Perry for documents related to their investigation.

Previously, Mr. Perry served as governor of Texas from the end of 2000 to the start of 2015. He is the longest-serving governor in the state’s history.

Texas is emerging as a political battleground state, despite its deep-red reputation.

Mr. Trump late Thursday targeted former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic presidential candidate from El Paso who gave Sen. Ted Cruz a tough race in 2018, for threatening to revoke the tax-exempt status of houses of worship that oppose same-sex marriage.

The president also blasted Mr. O’Rourke for proposing a mandatory buyback of AR-15s and similar rifles.

Neither of those pitches will play well in Texas, Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also scolded Democrats, broadly, for pursuing his impeachment. He said they cannot win at the ballot box so they dream up ways to come after him.

“I really don’t believe, anymore, that they love our country,” Mr. Trump said, before slamming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “That Crazy Nancy. She is crazy.”

Mr. Trump reiterated his complaints about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son, Hunter, who had business ties with Ukraine and China while his father served in the Obama administration.

And he fumed over the secret identity of the government official who blew the whistle on his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during which he asked the foreign leader for help in investigating the Bidens.

“Who’s the whistleblower, who’s the whistleblower?” Mr. Trump said. “We have to know.”

• Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.

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