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Trump admits withholding aid to Ukraine while asking country's leader to investigate 2020 rival Joe Biden

President's claims come after reports say he urged Ukrainian president 'eight times' in one call to investigate his political opponent's son

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 24 September 2019 15:56 BST
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'Europe has to put up money for Ukraine also' Trump asks why European countries aren't spending more on foreign aid

Donald Trump has admitted he withheld aid for Ukraine on Tuesday after reports said he repeatedly urged the country's leader to investigate his 2020 rival Joe Biden in a phone call earlier this year.

Speaking to reporters before heading into bilateral meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, the president acknowledged the explosive reports about his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky while attempting to turn the focus towards the former vice president.

The president claimed he withheld the financial aid meant to help defend Ukraine from Russia not because he wanted the country to launch an investigation into Mr Biden, but rather because he wanted to see other European countries contribute more money to Ukraine.

“I want Germany, and I want France, and I want the European Union to put up money,” he said.

Mr Trump’s order was first reported by The Washington Post and later confirmed by multiple outlets.

An influential group of freshmen Democrats who served in the military and national security before winning office said on Monday night the president's actions cut to the core of the country’s defences.

Their views, as centrist lawmakers from previously Republican-held districts where Mr Trump has been popular, hold sway with party leadership.

Mr Trump has insisted he did nothing wrong and has denied that any requests for help in procuring damaging information about Mr Biden were tied to the aid freeze.

Democrats, and some Republicans, urged the White House to be open about his actions, which are at the centere of a whistle-blower complaint.

But with no new information from the administration forthcoming, more than a dozen Democrats, including some in House leadership, added their names to those calling for impeachment proceedings.

The president hinted that a transcript from his call may soon be provided to the public, saying on Tuesday he would "assume" that reporters will have access to the document in the coming days.

Congress on Monday pressed for full disclosure of a whistle-blower’s complaint about Mr Trump and pushed the White House to release a transcript of the call.

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“It’s very important to talk about corruption,” Mr Trump told reporters as he opened meetings at the United Nations. “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is, is corrupt?”

He later denied telling the Ukraine president that his country would only get US aid if it investigated Mr Biden’s son. “I didn’t do it,” he said.

Additional reporting by AP

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