Trump attacks Biden after ‘repeatedly urging Ukrainian president’ to investigate 2020 opponent’s son

‘Nothing was said that was in any way wrong,’ president claims about call with Volodymyr Zelenski

Chris Riotta
New York
Saturday 21 September 2019 14:45 BST
Trump describes whistleblower as "partisan." A minute later, he says, "I don't know the identity of the whistleblower."

Donald Trump has attacked Joe Biden on Twitter after it was reported the president repeatedly pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation into the son of his highest-polling opponent in the 2020 race for the White House.

With outcry reaching a fever-pitch over Mr Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which an intelligence community whistleblower reportedly said he urged the country’s new leader to investigate Hunter Biden “about eight times,” the president attempted to turn the focus away from him on Saturday morning by hitting out at the Democratic Party’s clear 2020 frontrunner.

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of US money, so they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine,” Mr Trump wrote.

“Nothing was said that was in any way wrong,” he said about his phone call with the Ukrainian president.

“But Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster,” he added. “The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!”

Mr Trump then shared a video in which multiple news outlets can be seen covering the story he claimed minutes before the “fake news” did not want to report on, adding the caption: “This is the real and only story!”

The president’s phone call on 25 July with the leader of Ukraine gained controversy after a whistle-blower filed a complaint on 12 August that the Intelligence Inspector General’s office found to be “serious” and “urgent,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

Speaking to reporters on Friday in the Oval Office, Mr Trump said “it’s nothing” when asked about the whistle-blower scandal, adding: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed.

“I have conversations with many leaders,” he said. “It’s always appropriate. Always appropriate. At the highest level always appropriate. And anything I do, I fight for this country.”

The president then demanded reporters “look into” the relationship between Mr Biden and Ukraine.

Mr Biden, meanwhile, has called on Mr Trump to release a full transcript of the phone call he had with Mr Zelensky, saying that if the allegations are true “then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country”.

Mr Trump was scheduled to meet at next week’s UN General Assembly with the Ukrainian president.

Separately, Democrats are looking into whether Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has pressured Ukraine to investigate the activities of Mr Biden’s son, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.

The White House says Mr Trump and Mr Zelenskiy will discuss anti-corruption, energy, trade, the conflict in eastern Ukraine and Chinese intellectual property theft in Ukraine.

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Mr Trump has said he does not know the identity of the whistle-blower, while simultaneously describing the whistle-blower as “partisan”. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said it was “deeply disturbing” that the White House appears to know more about the whistleblower’s complaint than the complaint’s intended recipient, Congress.

Additional reporting by AP

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