President Donald Trump acknowledged discussing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden during a phone call with the president of Ukraine, describing the conversation to reporters on Sunday as “largely congratulatory.” He insisted he had done nothing wrong, and that the whistleblower had raised a false alarm.

He explained that the phone call focused on corruption as a whole, but then alluded that he may have discussed Biden.

“It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son [contributing] to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump said.

Biden threatened to withhold $1 billion of U.S. exchange unless Ukraine fired their top prosecutor, who was, at the time, allegedly investigating the gas company Burisma holdings. Biden’s son, Hunter, joined Burisma’s board of directors in 2014, so his father’s threat was viewed by some as a means of protecting his son.


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The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that during the July 25 phone call, Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden eight times.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko denied any form of pressure on Ukraine, calling the country “an independent state.”

“I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” said
Prystaiko. “There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist. This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.”

Trump had previously called the story of him asking for Ukraine to investigate Biden “fake news.” However, he told reporters Sunday, “I’m not looking to hurt Biden, but he said a very bad thing. He said a very foolish thing.”

Trump was most likely referencing Biden’s comments about withholding aid.

A video of Biden speaking at an April meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations began circulating on Twitter, where Biden publicly stated that before announcing a billion dollar loan guarantee from the U.S., he received a commitment from Ukrainian officials that they would fire the state prosecutor.

Biden told the officials, “I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well son of a bitch got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

There is no evidence that Biden was acting specifically in his son’s interest when he made the threat, and he has called Trump’s accusations an attempt to smear his campaign.

“Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” said Biden.

This is the second time that Trump has been accused of requesting outside assistance from another country during an election. The Mueller report cleared him in April of collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.

The report stated that while there was evidence of Russian interference in the election, it “did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign.”

The controversy about Trump’s conversation with Ukraine began after the acting Director of National Intelligence refused to turn over a whistleblower complaint to congress. While the complaint has not been published, details surrounding its circumstances emerged over the course of the week, alleging that Trump had made an “alarming promise” to a Ukrainian leader over a phone call.

Trump has recognized that people often try to listen in on his phone conversations, but called the whistleblower’s complaint as “a false alarm.”

“This whistleblower or whoever it was, because it sounds like it’s not a whistleblower, you can’t have that happen to a president of the United States,” said Trump. “The conversation, by the way, was absolutely perfect. It was a beautiful, warm, nice conversation.”

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