- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Fox News host Sean Hannity reasoned Tuesday that President Trump merely repeated one of his “go-to phrases” when Mr. Trump controversially asked his Ukrainian counterpart for a favor.

The conservative commentator offered the explanation during his prime-time opinion program, “Hannity,” amid defending Mr. Trump from impeachment inquiry proceedings sparked by the request.

“And let’s be clear, the term do us a favor — well, we all have go-to phrases,” Mr. Hannity explained. “You know, I say, ‘you know,’ a lot. The president uses them all the time — kind of a verbal aside.”

Mr. Hannity tried to prove his claim by playing a montage of clips showing five times Mr. Trump previously discussed requesting favors from others, saying the examples were among “hundreds” found by the Fox News host.

He also argued that Mr. Trump asking for a favor is on par with the president saying “big league,” one of his more frequently used phrases.

Democrats in the House of Representatives initiated an impeachment inquiry against Mr. Trump last month after his administration tried to prevent Congress from viewing a whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

The White House subsequently released a rough transcript of a July 25 phone call that triggered the whistleblower complaint, and it showed that Mr. Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr. Trump’s political opponent, former Vice President and current Democratic presidential front-runner Joseph R. Biden, while the U.S. withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in critical aid from Kyiv.

Mr. Trump requested a favor from Mr. Zelensky in response to the Ukrainian president bringing up defense assistance, according to the White House’s version of the phone call.

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine,” Mr. Trump said before asking him to investigate Mr. Biden, according to the White House.

Mr. Hannity, 57, argued during Tuesday’s broadcast that the “there were no strings attached” to Mr. Trump’s request because “Ukraine had no idea the U.S. had temporarily delayed aid.”

The New York Times reported Wednesday morning that top Ukrainian government officials were aware at the time that the aid with being withheld, however, effectively undercutting Mr. Hannity’s argument.

Mr. Trump has denied wrongdoing with respect to the Ukrainian call.

Mr. Hannity has previously characterized himself as the president’s biggest on-air booster at Fox News, and one of his colleagues recently went as far as to say his show is single-handedly preventing Mr. Trump from being impeached.

“If it wasn’t your show, Sean, they would destroy him absolutely. You’re the difference between Donald J. Trump and Richard Nixon,” Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera said on “Hannity” earlier this month.

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