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Condoleezza Rice says Trump asking Ukraine to investigate Biden is ‘out of bounds’

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has largely remained silent on issues concerning President Donald Trump, said Monday that the President’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden were “out of bounds” and called the administration’s shadow foreign policy in Ukraine “deeply troubling.”

“The call is murky, it is really murky. I don’t like for the President of the United States to mention an American citizen for investigation to a foreign leader. I think that is out of bounds,” Rice told CNN’s Becky Anderson during a conference in Abu Dhabi, referring to Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

This week, House Democrats plan to hold their first public hearings in their impeachment inquiry into Trump for his communications with Ukraine. During the July call, the President asked Zelensky to investigate the former vice president, a leading 2020 rival, and his son, Hunter Biden, though there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either of them. As part of the House probe, a number of current and former officials have testified to Congress that Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was leading efforts to secure investigations from Ukraine by circumventing official US diplomatic channels in order to conduct shadow foreign policy.

“What I see right now troubles me. I see a state of conflict between the foreign policy professionals and someone in Rudy Giuliani who says he was acting on behalf of the President,” said Rice, who served under former President George W. Bush.

“But frankly, I don’t even know the degree to which that’s case. It’s troubling. It’s deeply troubling.”

Rice, who also served as Bush’s national security adviser, said “the world shouldn’t get confusing messages from the United States of America.”

Trump has denied doing anything improper.

Though Rice said she thinks “you have to go a long way for” her to support the impeachment of a president because “you’re overturning an election,” the comments from the former secretary represent a rare public critique of Trump, whom she has largely remained mum on throughout his tenure. During the 2016 campaign, Rice called on Trump to drop out of the race in the wake of the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about being able to grope women, saying: “As a Republican, I hope to support someone who has the dignity and stature to run for the highest office in the greatest democracy on earth.”

Following Trump’s win, Rice and other former Bush administration officials recommended then-ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson in conversations with then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence to serve as secretary of state. And in March 2017, Trump and Rice met at the White House in their first publicly known meeting.

Rice also said that if she were vice president, she would not have let her son be involved “with a relatively shadowy Ukrainian gas company,” echoing comments made by politicians on both sides of the aisle who have disagreed with Hunter Biden’s decision to serve on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company, while his father was vice president. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden in Ukraine.

UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional comments from Rice during Monday’s interview.