President Donald Trump on Monday insisted he put no pressure on the president of Ukraine to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son –- but added it “probably possibly” would have been okay had he done so.
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“No, no, I didn't,” Trump said at the United Nations when reporters asked if he told the president of Ukraine that they would only get military aid if they investigated Biden during photo-op with Poland's president.
“I put no pressure on them, whatsoever,” Trump said of his call. “I could have, I think it would have probably possibly have been okay if I did, but I didn't I didn't put any pressure on them whatsoever. You know why? Because they want to do the right thing and they know about corruption, and they probably know that Joe Biden and his son are corrupt," repeating,"They probably know that Joe Biden and his son are corrupt. Joe Biden and his son are corrupt.
He told reporters he is indeed considering releasing the transcript of his call with president of Ukraine in order to set the record straight, even as he said he doesn’t like the precedent it would sets to do so.
“Now, when you see the call, if you see it, I hope you see it frankly, you will find out that I did not do that at all. And you'll be very disappointed when you say it, it's really a disgrace,” Trump said, blasting the media – saying some of the press are “crooked.”
“I can do it very easily,” he said of declassifying the call. “But I'd rather not do it from the standpoint of all of the other conversations I have, I may do it because it was a very innocent call,” he said. “I don't think it's a great precedent to be releasing calls with foreign countries heads a foreign country so I don't think it's a great precedent.”
The president insisted repeatedly that there was nothing wrong with his call, even as he defended the notion that it would be proper for Ukraine to root out any corruption. “I did not make a statement that you have to do this or I'm not going to give you. I wouldn't do that. I wouldn't do that,” Trump said. “With that being said, what I want is I want you know we're giving a lot of money away to Ukraine, and other places. You want to see a country that's going to be not corrupt,” Trump said.
“When Biden does a thing like that, that’s still corrupt, and that’s not good,” he continued.
Earlier Monday, the president said he’s taking new Democratic pressure for his impeachment “not at all seriously," accusing them of latching onto the call as just the latest chapter in a “witch hunt” against him.
“We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine,” he said as he arrived at the UN for a week of meetings, including one scheduled with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. “It’s just a Democrat witch hunt, here we go again. They failed with Russia, that failed with recession, they failed with everything, and now they’re bringing this up.”
The president's comments come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter Sunday to her Democratic colleagues in which she issued an ultimatum for the administration to release the whistleblower's report to Congress, warning that if the administration does not cooperate, "they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation."
The president’s call with the newly-elected president of Ukraine over the summer has come under scrutiny in recent days after it was reported that an individual within the intelligence community filed a formal whistleblower complaint over concerns about the call.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that Trump pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate the business dealings of Democratic presidential rival and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, bringing it up during the course of the phone call about eight times.
The president sought to direct the attention at Vice President Biden, saying “what Biden did was wrong."
“The one who’s got the problem is Biden. If you look at what Biden did, Biden did what would they would like to have me to, except there’s one problem, I didn’t do it. What Biden did is a disgrace, what his son did is a disgrace,” Trump said.
Vice President Biden has denied anything inappropriate.
The president has stopped short of confirming what he told the president of Ukraine but has seemed to acknowledge that he did bring up the topic of the former vice president with the Ukrainian leader.
The president defended that corruption is an important topic to discuss with a world leader of a country to which the U.S. is providing support.
“We’re supporting a country, we want to make sure a country is honest, it’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption why would you give money?”
At the time of the call, the Trump administration had been holding back $250 million in congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine.
Shortly after his remarks, the president took to Twitter to question whether the whistleblower is even “on our country’s side” and asks “where does he come from” – the president apparently assuming that the whistleblower is a man although he's said he doesn't know who it is.