While speaking with reporters Sunday morning outside the White House, President Donald Trump said he discussed both former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in a phone call with Ukraine’s president that has become the latest international scandal to plague Trump’s administration. Trump said he hoped “they release” the call.
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place,” Trump said, per tweets from White House correspondents. “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.”
The elder Biden has issued a statement asking for the Trump administration to release a transcript of the July 25 call “so that the American people can judge for themselves.” Multiple news outlets reported Friday that Trump pressured President Vladimir Zelensky eight separate times on the call to investigate Hunter Biden.
Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president concerned Hunter Biden’s business dealings and may be the subject of a whistleblower complaint about a ‘promise’ made to a foreign government
Days after Hunter Biden joined the board of a natural-gas company in Ukraine, then-Vice President Joe Biden traveled to the country and urged the Ukrainian government to reduce its dependency on Russia for natural gas, suggesting that the US could provide technical expertise to expand domestic production.
Critics of the diplomatic move said the US was attempting to maneuver open access to the Ukraine’s shale gas reserves and suggested that the younger Biden’s role exhibited a conflict of interest. Also, then-Vice President Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion of loan guarantees if Ukraine’s general prosecutor was not fired from his position.
Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has argued that Biden sought the prosecutor’s removal for investigating the owner of the company whose board Biden’s son served on. Trump espoused that same viewpoint, though multiple news reports have pointed out the prosecutor was under wide scrutiny from many besides Biden over claims including that he had failed to pursue corruption investigations.
At a campaign stop in Iowa on Saturday, Biden said he had “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.” Trump told reporters he thought that was a lie.
“I mean give me a break — he’s already said he spoke to his son and now he said yesterday very firmly,” Trump said. “Who wouldn’t speak to your son? Of course you spoke to your son.”
The president also said he’d have “no problem” with Giuliani talking to Congress about his interactions with Ukraine. Giuliani reportedly met with top Ukrainian officials to discuss an investigation into the younger Biden.
Trump tweeted a quote from a segment of the Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Sunday morning arguing that “the real story involves Hunter Biden going around the world and collecting large payments from foreign governments and foreign oligarchs.”
The president’s call with Ukraine has become a matter of congressional interest since a whistleblower complaint was filed to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.
Federal law required Maguire to submit the complaint to Congress within seven days, but Maguire did not comply. His refusal to submit prompted the original recipient of the complaint to report the inaction to the Senate and House intelligence committees.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has suggested that, in failing to submit the complaint and in taking the unusual step to consult with the Justice Department, Maguire was “engaged in an unlawful effort to protect the president and conceal from the committee information related to his possible ‘serious of flagrant’ misconduct, abuse of power, or violation of the law.”
Starting Thursday, The Washington Post reported that the complaint involved Ukraine, in particular a “promise” that Trump made. The call is now thought to be at the center of the whistleblower complaint, though it has not been confirmed.
Trump praised Maguire to reporters on Sunday, calling him a “great gentleman” who is “only going to do what’s right.”