The following is a transcript of the interview with Senator Chris Murphy that aired Sunday, September 29, 2019, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Murphy who traveled to Ukraine earlier this month and met with President Zelensky there. Good morning to you, Senator, you just heard Senator Graham give a full throated defense of the president here. Would you like to respond?
SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY: Well, Republicans are circling the wagons because they know this isn’t about hearsay evidence. This is about a transcript in which the president of the United States seeks to trade away the credibility of the country, seeks to use the immense power of the presidency in order to destroy a political rival.
The whistleblower complaint is absolutely credible, but frankly you don’t need it because you have a transcript of a conversation in which the president of the United States tried to convince a foreign leader to interfere in the 2020 election. And you have Rudy Giuliani on TV every morning and every night openly admitting that, as an agent of the president’s campaign, he has been coordinating with the State Department in order to try to perpetuate the president’s political agenda. This is not allowable in a democracy.
And frankly it frightens me that Republicans are standing up and defending the president because if he gets away with this, what’s to stop him from essentially integrating the entirety of American foreign policy, the State Department itself, into his political re-election campaign? The Ukrainians don’t have a lot of interest in interfering in our election. You can hear that in the way that Zelensky talks. But if President Trump has asked or does ask the Russians or the Saudis to interfere in the 2020 election, they will simply ask when and how?
MARGARET BRENNAN: The State Department has said Rudy Giuliani does not represent the U.S. government there. They’ve tried to make that clear, but wh- when you went to Ukraine earlier this month and you met with President Zelensky, in the retelling of that President Trump this week accused you of threatening the Ukrainian president. What exactly did you say?
SEN. MURPHY: Well first of all, of course Rudy Giuliani is attempting to speak for the United States government, right? And you can understand how the Ukrainians are confused when the personal representative of the president is coming to them and asking them to help destroy one of his political rivals. And you can also understand how they might be concerned that if they don’t do the bidding of the president of the United States there might be consequences that come to them.
When I went to Ukraine three weeks ago, I told the president that he should stay away from interfering in the 2020 presidential election. And if he wants to talk to the United States government, he should talk to the State Department, because I had heard these concerns that the Ukrainians didn’t understand what the consequences would be if they said no to the president’s request to investigate the Bidens, and they worried, rightly, that there might be a consequence to their security and that just stands to reason. Remember whether or not there’s an explicit quid pro quo–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.
SEN. MURPHY: –there is an implicit threat in every demand that the president United States makes: if you don’t do what the president of the United States wants you know there are going to be consequences–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Did you- did you ask if there was anything to all of these insinuations around Hunter Biden? Did you ever bring that up with Ukrainian officials?
SEN MURPHY: Well- well no, that didn’t come up because we already know that there is zero evidence for the claims that the president is making. That in fact, the prosecutor at the time was not investigating this company and that there is zero evidence to suggest–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well the investigation was open, but it was not being prosecuted or pursued–
SEN MURPHY: Well, and remember- and remember the vice president was doing what every other one of our allies was doing. This was a corrupt and incompetent prosecutor. Vice President Biden, the EU, the IMF, everyone was calling for his removal. And by the way, at the time, there wasn’t a single Republican in the United States Congress who was raising an issue with what the Vice President was doing. It only comes up now that they are trying to defund- to defend the corrupt actions of this president–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why do you think- you sit on Senate Foreign Relations, so you have some oversight of the State Department. Secretary Pompeo has been subpoenaed by House committees, number of diplomats are coming forward for depositions this week. Why, up to this point, has the State Department refused to hand over some of the documents? Do you have any insight into that?
SEN. MURPHY: Well, listen we’re learning by the day how deeply integrated the State Department was into Trump’s corrupt actions. Essentially what Trump is trying to do–
MARGARET BRENNAN: You think Secretary Pompeo was directly involved in this?
SEN. MURPHY: Wh- what we know is that- that Ambassador Volker was involved, that Rudy Giuliani says he was doing this at the direction of the State Department. I don’t know whether the secretary himself was involved. But what you cannot allow is for the president to use the massive power of his office, the credibility of the United States, in order to try to get foreign countries to interfere in an American election. That’s what he was doing here today, and that’s why you’ve seen this massive turn of public opinion. That’s why Americans know that you have to open an impeachment inquiry.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it possible to do what Lindsey Graham said here for the president to actually get things done legislatively? Are Democrats really going to be willing to work with him?
SEN. MURPHY: So I- I’m willing to walk and chew gum at the same time. I’d love to get a deal done on background checks. That’s a matter of saving lives. So, if the president’s willing to work with us on guns, I’m ready to do it. If we don’t get a background checks deal the only reason that it doesn’t get done is because the president is distracted, not because his–
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay.
SEN. MURPHY: –potential partners in Congress won’t work with him.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Senator Murphy thank you very much. We’ll be back in one minute. Don’t go away.
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