Trump says ‘not at all’ worried about impeachment amid Ukraine drama2 min read . Updated: 24 Sep 2019, 07:03 AM IST
- Trump confirmed that he discussed what he says was corruption by Biden’s family during a call with Zelensky
- Trump has spent much of his first term fighting off allegations that he benefited from Russian-sponsored interference during his surprise 2016 win over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton
UNITED NATIONS/WASHINGTON : President Donald Trump on Monday dismissed the threat of impeachment over allegations that he tried to pressure Ukraine’s leader into investigating his 2020 election rival Joe Biden.
Asked if he was taking the threat from some Democrats seriously, Trump answered: “Not at all seriously."
US media reports revealed that an intelligence community whistleblower had filed a report after becoming alarmed at Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call.
Trump has confirmed that he discussed what he says was corruption by Biden’s family during the call but denies applying pressure on Zelensky.
“We had a perfect phone call," he told reporters on arrival at the United Nations in New York. “Everybody knows it’s just a Democrat witch hunt."
Trump has spent much of his first term as president fighting off allegations that he benefited from Russian-sponsored interference during his surprise 2016 win over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. As the 2020 election approaches, worries are mounting over further attempts from abroad to meddle in the tense US political landscape.
Against that background, the whistleblower’s reported raising of the alarm has thrown Washington into renewed turmoil.
According to some reports Trump tried to pressure Zelensky to go after Biden by temporarily withholding US military aid to Ukraine.
Growing numbers of Democrats believe they should open impeachment proceedings against Trump. However, party leaders have resisted, knowing that the Republicans, who are in lockstep with Trump, would almost certainly prevent an impeachment trial taking place in the Senate. The White House is under pressure to release a transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky. Democrats, who control the lower house of Congress, are also seeking to question the whistleblower, whose identity remains secret.
Meanwhile, the revelations relating to Trump have brought back into the spotlight the controversial hiring of Biden’s son in 2014 by a Ukranian gas company.
Biden, then the vice president, was at the forefront of American diplomatic efforts to support Ukraine’s fragile democratic government as it sought to fend off Russian aggression and root out corruption.
The Obama White House said at the time that there was no conflict because the Hunter Biden was a private citizen. And there’s been no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also publicly urged Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens.
The younger Biden was named a paid board member of Burisma Holdings in April 2014.
The company’s founder was a political ally of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s Russia-friendly president, who was driven out in February 2014 by mass protests.
Yanukovych’s ouster prompted the Obama administration to move quickly to deepen ties with Ukraine’s new government. Joe Biden played a major role, travelling to Ukraine and speaking frequently with its new Western-friendly president.
The younger Biden’s business role raised concerns among anticorruption advocates that Burisma was seeking to gain influence with the Obama administration.
At the time, the company ran a natural gas extraction operation in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia after Yanukovych was pushed from power.
Hunter Biden has denied using his influence with his father to aid Burisma.
He remained on the board through early 2019, often appearing at energy-related conferences abroad representing Burisma’s interests.