Saturday, September 21, 2019 8:15 am
Joe Biden, the Democratic heavyweight hoping to wrest the U.S. presidency from Donald Trump, has called on his opponent to make public the transcript of a phone call during which he reportedly made an inappropriate “promise” to a foreign leader.
“At minimum, Donald Trump should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves,” Biden said in a statement posted on Twitter on Friday.
The White House is being accused of pushing Ukraine to investigate Biden, according to multiple U.S. media reports.
The latest crisis emerged in recent days when the Washington Post reported that a whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community had filed a complaint, apparently centred around Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s new leader, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Biden called on Trump to “direct the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to stop stonewalling and release the whistleblower notification to Congress.”
“If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country,” the Democratic frontrunner ahead of the 2020 elections tweeted.
Trump dubbed the saga a “political hack job” by his opponents and denied wrongdoing.
He said his talks with foreign leaders “are always appropriate” and accused the whisteblower of being “partisan.”
Congress is stepping up investigations into the whistleblower complaint, with a top White House intelligence official testifying behind closed doors to House Intelligence Committee members Thursday.
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, appeared on U.S. broadcaster CNN to deny that he had encouraged Ukraine to investigate Biden, the former vice president.
But then Giuliani flipped and admitted he did.
“Of course I did,” Giuliani said, when asked point-blank.
A Ukrainian read-out of the call from July 25 said the sides discussed the investigation of corruption cases.
The whistleblower complaint was reported to be centred on a “promise” by the president.
The issue around Biden pertains to allegations of corruption by his son, Hunter Biden.
Key Democrats in the House of Representatives have written to the White House, expressing concerns that Trump and Giuliani were pressuring Ukraine “in service” of the president’s re-election campaign.
The lawmakers noted concerns the president was withholding 250 million dollars in military aid to Ukraine.
The White House appears to have stepped in to block Congressional oversight, according to the Post.
Trump is due to meet Zelensky next week in New York. An open hearing in Congress is scheduled for Thursday.