Washington: The White House released a call transcript Wednesday confirming Donald Trump had asked his Ukrainian counterpart to probe his political rival Joe Biden – a day after Democrats seized on the explosive allegation to launch an impeachment process.
“There’s a lot of talk about Joe Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Donald Trump told Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in the July 25 call.
As Barack Obama’s vice-president, Joe Biden and other Western leaders pressured Ukraine to get rid of the country’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, because he was seen as not tough enough on corruption. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it,” Trump is heard telling Zelensky.
The five-page document – a summary of the call rather than a word-for-word record – was released as Trump was preparing to meet Zelensky on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.
Democrats, who opened formal impeachment proceedings against the president Tuesday, are investigating whether he pressured a foreign government to look into a political opponent, and if he used a USD 400 million aid package as leverage. There was no mention of the money in the summary.
The July 25 phone call was among the subjects in a whistleblower complaint that has so far not been made available to lawmakers.
Lawyers representing the whistleblower said in a statement n Tuesday that there had been a ‘decision to release the whistleblower complaint’, but did not provide further details.
Meanwhile Trump maintained Wednesday that he had exerted ‘no pressure’ on Ukraine, as the White House released a call transcript confirming he had asked Kiev to probe his political rival Joe Biden.
“There was no pressure whatsoever,” Trump told reporters on the sidelines of the UNGA. “It was a friendly letter, there was no pressure,” Trump repeated.