President Donald Trump contended Wednesday that former President Barack Obama solicited the aid of foreign governments in an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The White House released a transcript earlier in the day of a July phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into allegations that former Vice President and current Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter engaged in political corruption in Ukraine.
At a news conference at the United Nations on Wednesday afternoon, Trump fielded questions about the phone call.
“Can you explain to the American people why it is appropriate for an American president to ask a foreign leader for information about a political rival?” a reporter asked.
The reporter also wondered how the president would have reacted if he had discovered that Obama had asked a foreign leader for information about him while he campaigned for the presidency.
“Well, that’s what he did, isn’t it, really when you think about it,” Trump answered. “Look, that whole witch hunt was started and hopefully that will all come out.”
Watch Trump’s comments below.
No information has become public to date that Obama directly made such requests of foreign leaders, but Trump appeared to be referring to actions that the Obama administration reportedly took against him and his campaign involving foreign actors.
Several conservative commentators have raised the question of what Obama knew regarding the FBI investigation labeled “Crossfire Hurricane” that was launched against the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016.
Trump recommended some new books that address the Obama administration’s conduct during the 2016 race, including “Witch Hunt” by pundit Gregg Jarrett and “Ball of Collusion” by former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy.
Both books cover that the role the Trump-Russia dossier, paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, played during the campaign and beyond.
The dossier, compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, was reportedly used by the Obama administration to obtain warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court targeting Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The New York Times reported that the FBI’s inquiry began because campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, under the influence of heavy drinking in London in May 2016, “made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain,” Alexander Downer, that Russia had political dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Based on four unnamed “current and former American and foreign officials,” The Times related that Australian officials passed along the information supposedly obtained from Papadopoulos to their American counterparts two months later.
“I believe that that article was an example of a disinformation operation against the American public,” Papadopoulos told The Western Journal in June.
In his book, “Deep State Target,” he wrote that he had only one drink during his short meeting with Downer.
In addition to Downer, he was approached by other foreign actors from countries like Italy and the United Kingdom.
According to The Times, the FBI also sent an undercover agent to London pretending to be an assistant to British-based bureau informant Stefan Halper as he met with Papadopoulos in September 2016.
“So, here’s just the reality of this situation,” Papadopoulos said. “No foreign governments, let alone European governments, which are usually allied governments, are going to be weaponizing intel assets of their own governments to go after Americans unless the U.S. government is prodding them to or instructing them to [take that action].”
Trump argued at his news conference that those who targeted his campaign and presidency “have hurt this country very badly.”
“No other president should have to go through what I have gone through,” he said.
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