Donald Trump appeared to acknowledge on Sunday that he had discussed former Vice President Joe Biden in a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that is the subject of a congressional investigation.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place,” the president told reporters as he departed the White House on Sunday for events in Texas and Ohio. “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
Trump said that a mysterious intelligence whistle-blower raised “false alarms” about his interactions with a foreign leader and said he wouldn’t object to his attorney Rudy Giuliani testifying to Congress about the Ukraine affair.
“You can’t have people doing false alarms like this,” Trump said of the whistle-blower, who has not been identified. He added that he’d have “no problem” with Giuliani speaking to House committees that are investigating allegations the president and his lawyer pressured the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to re-open an investigation into a company connected to the family of former Vice President Joe Biden.
In a July 25 phone call with Zelensky, Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden’s son Hunter, according to a person familiar with the call. Trump defended the call on Sunday.
“I said nothing wrong, it was perfect. I assume many people are on the line. I know that before I make the call,” Trump told reporters as he departed for events ahead of the United Nations General Assembly next week. “What wasn’t perfect was the horrible thing Joe Biden said.”
The Washington Post has reported that the whistle-blower’s complaint concerns Trump’s interactions with Zelensky. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said in an interview with a Ukrainian news outlet, Hromadske, on Saturday that “Trump did not pressure Zelensky.”
Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in May that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe Biden or his son, Hunter Biden, who once sat on the board of one of the country’s biggest gas companies. In addition, Vitaliy Kasko, a former deputy prosecutor who pursued a case against the gas company’s owner, told Bloomberg in May that there had been no U.S. pressure to close the case.
Biden revisited the issue on Saturday while campaigning in Des Moines, Iowa.
“Trump’s doing this because he knows I will beat him like a drum,” Biden said. “Why is he on the phone with a foreign leader trying to intimidate a foreign leader if that’s what happened, that appears what happened.”
Biden repeated his call for Trump to release the transcript of the Zelensky phone call. Revelations about Trump’s interactions with Zelensky have led some congressional Democrats to turn up the heat on their leadership to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, on Sunday called for the whistle-blower “to come forward.”
“Republicans who claim to be national security experts need to demand that the whistle-blower present himself or herself before Congress,” Murphy said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“If we do have the evidence from this whistle-blower that the president indeed did try to bully a foreign power into affecting our elections, then we have to do something about it,” he said.