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U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn speaks during a Chattanooga Rotary Club luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Sen. Blackburn said during the speech that Tennesseeans are ready to move on from the Mueller investigation.

NASHVILLE — Republican U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee on Thursday sought to cast doubt on the credibility of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry regarding President Donald Trump.

Blackburn, a Senate Judiciary Committee member, said that based on the publicly released memo of a phone conversation during which Trump pressed Ukraine's leader to "look into" potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden that "Democrats might have jumped the gun on this one."

"The bottom line on it is if we see a big impeachment investigation starting in the House and it gets to the Senate, the Democrats are not going to have the votes from Republicans to do a conviction," Blackburn said.

She then added: "We're going to continue to watch this as it plays out."

In a Senate floor speech Wednesday, Blackburn denounced Democrats' decision to pursue a formal impeachment inquiry as the "culmination of a three-year witch hunt born of a grudge."

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Marsha Blackburn

But in a Thursday morning call with reporters, Blackburn said she had not yet had time to read a just-released, nine-page, now-unclassified complaint from the unidentified whistleblower.

The whistleblower alleges Trump sought to "solicit interference from a foreign country, citing conversations with a number of unnamed White House officials. He then alleged the White House sought to "lock down" what happened in a cover-up effort.

"My understanding is that the whistleblower complaint is based solely on the one phone call and that the whistleblower did not have direct knowledge of the phone call and did not hear the phone call," Blackburn said.

The senator added: "You're going to hear a lot of discussion about this. I think what we all want and I think what Tennesseans want, I hear this all the time, they want fairness, they want justice. If something wrong was done they want it dealt with."

And citing the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee's role in looking into the Ukraine issues, Blackburn said, "we'll have more to say when they have a report that is available."

Asked if she had heard anything concerning the president, Blackburn returned to the memo of Trump's July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"I think it kind of stands on its own. And when you look at the transcript and you read through that, there is not anything in the transcript that is a quid pro quo."

The memorandum released by the U.S. Justice Department is not a verbatim transcript, according to the administration.

In a floor speech later Thursday, U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat and a House Judiciary Subcommittee chairman who has long advocated for Trump's impeachment on a number of issues, said Trump pressured Ukraine's president to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

"This is subverting the Constitution and threatening our national security," the Memphis congressman said. "I commend Speaker Pelosi for calling for an impeachment inquiry. It's the right time. It's the right issue. This is an egregious subversion of our Constitution. Long may the United States survive and live as a true democracy."

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.

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