President Donald Trump encouraged White House reporters Friday to look into Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden’s threat to Ukrainian officials to withhold U.S. aid if a prosecutor overseeing a criminal investigation involving Biden’s son Hunter was not fired.
The Hill reported that Trump dismissed a “partisan” whistleblower’s complaint against him that made headlines Wednesday and is believed to involve a conversation the president had with a Ukrainian leader.
Asked whether he had discussed Biden or the former vice president’s family, Trump responded, “It doesn’t matter what I discussed, but I will say this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement, because it was disgraceful, where he talked about billions of dollars that he’s not giving to a certain country unless a certain prosecutor is taken off the case.
“So somebody ought to look into that, but you wouldn’t because he’s a Democrat. The fake news doesn’t look into things like that. It’s a disgrace.”
President Trump: “It doesn’t matter what I discussed, but I will say this, somebody ought to look into Joe Biden’s statement because it was disgraceful… Somebody ought to look into that and you wouldn’t because he’s a Democrat.” https://t.co/N6hsv1jAWW pic.twitter.com/3mxcXKOAJW
— The Hill (@thehill) September 20, 2019
At a Council on Foreign Relations event in January 2018, Biden recounted an official visit he took to Ukraine in March 2016 during which he spoke about how he pressured President Petro Poroshenko to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin or not receive $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in,’ I think it was, ‘about six hours.’ I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden recalled telling Poroshenko.
“Well, son of a b—-, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” the former vice president told the Council on Foreign Relations.
Investigative reporter John Solomon wrote in The Hill, “Ukrainian officials tell me there was one crucial piece of information that Biden must have known but didn’t mention to his audience: The prosecutor he got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.”
“U.S. banking records show Hunter Biden’s American-based firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, received regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015, during a period when Vice President Biden was the main U.S. official dealing with Ukraine and its tense relations with Russia,” Solomon said.
Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, argued on Fox News Thursday night that Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine constituted bribery from which his son personally benefited.
“The vice president of the United States bribed a foreign official. Isn’t that a matter of great concern to this country?” Giuliani asked Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
“The crime of bribery is defined in the Ukraine, as well as all over the world, as the following: You cannot offer something of value in exchange for official action,” he said.
The former federal prosecutor explained that the billion-dollar loan guarantee was something of great value and an official act was taken in exchange when Poroshenko fired his nation’s top prosecutor.
“That’s a crime, prima facie [on its face],” Giuliani said.
Trump predicted Friday that the media’s reporting suggesting that he engaged in wrongdoing by allegedly discussing Biden with a Ukrainian will ultimately play in his favor.
“Keep asking questions and build it up as big as possible,” he said, “so you can have a bigger downfall.”
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