Trump says he had ‘perfectly fine’ call with Ukraine leader

Sunday, 22 Sep, 2019

President Donald Trump pressured Ukraine's president during a July phone call to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter, repeatedly suggesting that he work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, to carry out the probe, according to a new report Friday by The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter.

Mr Trump is defending himself against the intelligence official's complaint, asserting that it comes from a "partisan whistleblower", though the president also said he does not know who might be behind it.

Former Vice President Joe Biden went on the offense Saturday over President Trump's July phone call with the president of Ukraine, in which Trump reportedly urged the leader to investigate Biden's son's dealings in the country - with Biden backing calls for a House investigation and for the White House to release the transcript of the call.

The renewed engagement happened to dovetail with Giuliani's efforts to convince Ukrainian officials to look into Biden and his son - an effort Giuliani spoke about publicly and that quickly caught Trump's attention. He pointed out that Biden, while he was vice president, threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it ousted Shokin, which Ukraine agreed to do.

"Nearly anytime I focus on on the phone to a worldwide leader, I needless to mumble there would possibly possibly very correctly be many folks listening from assorted USA agencies, now to not mumble these from the opposite nation itself", he tweeted on Thursday.

The call, which Trump has defended as "totally appropriate", has been scrutinized in recent days in the wake of reports that the conversation between Trump and Zelensky prompted a whistleblower from within the intelligence agencies to file a complaint with the inspector general.

The latest crisis emerged in recent days when the Washington Post reported that a whistleblower in the United States intelligence community had filed a complaint, apparently centred around Trump's phone call with Ukraine's new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump dubbed the saga a "political hack job" by his opponents and denied wrongdoing.

Mr Trump was asked whether he knew if the whistleblower's complaint centred on the July 25 call with Mr Zelenskiy.

Biden released a statement Friday night decrying media reports that Trump had urged Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Hunter Biden's connection to a Ukranian gas company.

Trump said he doesn't know the identity of the person who made the complaint.

After reviewing the complaint, Atkinson determined it was "credible" and forwarded it on August 26 to the acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, a Trump appointee. He accused Mr. Trump of "trying to intimidate a foreign leader" by asking Zelensky to investigate the younger Biden.

"There's a real sense of urgency here since the Inspector General was so clear this is not something that can wait", said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Friday, a day after his panel was briefed behind closed doors by the inspector general.

Democrat chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said that Maguire's actions raised the specter of a cover-up, created to protect Trump or someone close to him. Amid the swirling allegations, Giuliani gave conflicting answers on Thursday about whether the administration had urged Ukraine to investigate Biden, at one point telling CNN "of course I did". But what we know at this point about this whole saga is that a USA intelligence official filed a whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community's inspector general on August 12.

"I love these House Democrats - my brother is one of them", he said.

Three committees in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives have demanded that the White House turn over a transcript of the call. Chris Murphy tweeted Friday in reaction to the news.

CORNISH: Can you tell us more about what's behind the whistleblower's complaint?