Trump squirms after whistleblower alleges Ukraine threats
Donald Trump says he is “not looking to hurt” his potential presidential rival in 2020, Joe Biden, but claims the former vice president has acted inappropriately and lied over his son’s dealings in Ukraine.
Trump’s allegedly demanded in July that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate Hunter Biden, who had lucrative contracts in Ukraine while his father was vice president.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has claimed Trump did not apply pressure to the Ukrainian president during a phone call this summer, after a source said Trump urged Kiev to launch a probe into Biden’s son, Hunter.
Pompeo accused Biden of intervening to protect his son from Ukrainian probe.
It is alleged Trump may have threatened to withhold military aid to Kiev if it did not do his bidding.
About a month after the call, US$250 million in military funding to the war-torn country was delayed. The aid was released this month after the whistleblower’s allegations became public.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said he did not think Trump had tried to pressure Zelensky during the July phone call. But he did not deny that Biden’s son was raised.
“There was talk … leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on a lot of questions, sometimes requiring serious answers,” Prystaiko told the media.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
Trump claimed the Hunter Biden’s business dealings were sustained by his father, according to the allegations.
Biden called for a probe of Trump over the claims. “Here’s what I know: I know Trump deserves to be investigated,” the aged Democrat frontrunner said.
Trump “is violating every basic norm of a president …why is he on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader, if that’s what happened”.
Biden said Trump was resorting to underhand tactics because “he knows I’d beat him like a drum”.
The former vice president has called for the transcript of the call to be released.
Hunter Biden worked for a gas company in Ukraine and then vice-president Biden visited the country in March 2016. During the visit, Biden pressed for the country’s top prosecutor to be fired.
A probe into the company for which Hunter Biden worked was dormant and, in May this year, Ukraine’s prosecutor general told Bloomberg, “We do not see any wrongdoing” by either Biden.
Ukraine needs US military backing to take on Russian-backed separatists. Picture credit: Wikimedia