Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz Compares Donald Trump Releasing Ukraine Aid to a Hostage Situation

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz drew an unfortunate parallel between President Donald Trump's Ukraine phone call and a hostage situation during a Fox News interview, in which he also described the impeachment inquiry as a "shakedown."

Speaking to anchor Ed Henry, Gaetz was asked about the claim that President Trump released aid to the Ukraine only after a whistleblower raised concerns over the commander-in-chief allegedly pressuring the Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

The president has denied there was any quid pro quo in a July phone call between he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump suggested Zelenskiy should look into potential political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who previously sat on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.

But while Trump has denied there was any pressure or quid pro quo in the July phone call, a report in The New York Times this week suggested the president was briefed on the Whistleblower complaint prior to his releasing aid to Ukraine, although the extent of his knowledge on the complaint at that time is unclear.

However, Gaetz suggested in the Fox News interview that the president's decision to release the aid after he was aware about the whistleblower was "the right thing to show there was no conditionality here."

"Ed, if you are ever accused of holding a hostage for ransom and you are not doing it, it's always a good idea to probably release the alleged hostage," Gaetz responded.

"I mean in this case, if the president was so incensed with the notion that someone would even make the accusation there was conditionality here when there wasn't, it would only be the right thing to do to show there was no conditionality, there was never any sort of dirt for arms narrative like the Democrats have laid out," he added.

The president has repeatedly insisted there was no quid pro quo in the call, and has branded the impeachment inquiry a "witch hunt" lambasting the democrats over their investigation.

Trump has also complained that his lawyers had not been given ample opportunity to present a defense as yet, although they have now been invited to participate and may not seize on that chance.

"I'm not entirely apprised of the waivers that that could potentially create within the White House counsel's offices," Gaetz said. "But you know me, Ed, I like being on the field. I think we show up, we ask our questions, and even if the process is unfair, we have to show the country what a terribly divisive and unproductive endeavor this is."