In the controversy surrounding his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, Donald Trump negates any wrongdoings but has confirmed that Joe Biden and his son Hunter were, indeed, a topic of the conversation – yet solely regarding a possible involvement of the two in Ukrainian corruption cases, Trump stated on Sunday. Other than that, the conversation had mainly been about congratulating Zelensky, especially on his election as Ukrainian president.
It prompted a whistleblower to report the occurrence which he deemed “disturbing” to US Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, who rated it “credible and urgent.” Atkinson then passed the classified information to Joseph Maguire, Acting Director of National Intelligence. Maguire did not inform the relevant congressional committees but stated executive privilege after consulting the Department of Justice. It raises questions Maguire now has to answer in Congress – during a hearing on Thursday.
Trump conducted the conversation with Zelenskyj on July 25, according to media reports, urging him to gather compromising information about Biden’s son Hunter, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company during Biden’s term as Vice President. While there have been there had been cases of corruption in the gas company, a connection to Hunter Biden has never been proven.
Trump attempted to put Zelenskyj on Hunter Biden’s case and to collaborate with his attorney Rudy Giuliani on this matter. The latter first denied any attempt to extract information from the Ukrainian government in a TV interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, only to admit the opposite thirty seconds later, leaving Cuomo and Democrats puzzled and Trump in a potentially even bigger scandal.
“If these allegations are true, then President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and humiliate our country knows no bounds,” Biden said Friday. The former US Vice President spoke of “corruption”. The least was that Trump “immediately publishes the transcript of the call in question so that the American people can judge for themselves.” A demand to which Trump stated he hoped the call would be released.
Meanwhile, several government members have uttered their support for Trump. Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin told CNN that he had “no reason to believe that the president has put pressure” on Zelenskyj. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC that if Biden “acted inappropriately if he protected his son and intervened in a corrupt manner, we need to get to the bottom of it in my view.”
One of the few Republican who has raised concern is Senator Romney. Any evidence of Trump’s request to the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden would be “extremely worrying,” he said. While Speaker of the House Pelosi spoke of “serious questions for our national security”.
The incident once again raises questions regarding Trump’s proclivity to seek help from foreign governments. Moreover, the fact that Trump’s team has gone into attack mode in lieu of negation displays at least some degree of election angst amongst Republicans. Particularly Rudy Giuliani has long been promoting unproven theories about Joe Biden’s Ukraine connections. The Trump team now pushes the narrative of Biden conspiring with Ukraine to damage the 2020 hopeful’s reputation.
Today news broke that Trump ordered his acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in military aid before the call with Ukraine’s president, likely as a leverage play, adding yet another layer to this saga that continues to unfold.