President Donald Trump on Friday denied he made an improper or illegal promise to a foreign leader, dismissing the claim as “fake news,” as allegations emerged that Trump and his allies pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden, a potential Trump opponent in next year’s election.
The allegations appear to center on a July call in which Trump reportedly told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that incomplete corruption investigations on Ukraine's part had inhibited relations between the two countries.
While summaries of the call haven’t mentioned a specific corruption investigation, Trump lawyer Rudolph Giuliani has for months publicly encouraged the Ukrainian investigation of Biden, alleging, as Giuliani charged again on CNN this week, that Biden “bribed the president of Ukraine” to intervene in a probe of the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter.
Giuliani acknowledged Thursday on CNN that he asked Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden.
Whistleblower Complaint Over 'Pitch Perfect' Call
Questions about whether Trump or his lawyers have sought to have Ukraine dig up dirt on Biden emerged following a report in The Washington Post earlier in the week that an unidentified U.S. intelligence agency official had filed a complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general, alleging Trump made a "troubling" promise to an unspecified leader.
The complaint hasn’t been released publicly, and a Congressional effort to look into it was held behind closed doors.
But the Post reported Thursday night, citing unnamed sources, that the complaint involved Ukraine and the July 25 call with Zelensky.
The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again! They think I may have had a “dicey” conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a “highly partisan” whistleblowers..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2019
Trump, on Twitter, dismissed the allegation as an attack by “Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners,” saying that the charge involved “a perfectly fine and respectful conversation.
“There was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!” Trump tweeted.
Congress Wants Complaint
Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson met with the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday in a closed door meeting. The Post reported that he declined to discuss the content of the complaint with lawmakers, saying he wasn’t authorized to do so.
“We cannot get an answer to the question about whether the White House is also involved in preventing this information from coming to Congress,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who heads the Intelligence Committee, while also warning of legal action if intelligence officials continue to decline to share the complaint with the panel.
Trump to Meet Zelensky in Person
The attention on Trump’s dealings with Ukraine comes as Trump is scheduled to meet with Zelensky next week in New York when the Ukrainian president attends the UN General Assembly meeting.
Concerns were already been brewing on Capitol Hill about whether the administration was holding up a military assistance package to Ukraine as part of a political quid pro quo.
The money had been held up, but after Schiff started asking intelligence officials about the whistleblower complaint, the aid package was released, the New York Times reported.
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White House photo by Joyce Boghosian.
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