Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, during a meeting in New York with President Trump, told reporters Wednesday that he was not pressured to investigate the Biden family during their now-controversial phone call over the summer.
“Nobody pushed me,” Zelensky said.
The comments come after the White House released a transcript reflecting that call. It showed Trump sought a probe into Biden family dealings in the country, though it did not show Trump explicitly linking the request to U.S. aid, as some have suggested.
“We had a great phone call,” Zelensky added. “It was normal.”
Trump interjected afterward: “In other words, there was no pressure and you know there was no pressure.”
Trump’s meeting with Zelensky comes just hours after the White House released the transcript of their summertime call and less than a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she was opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump over the issue.
“She’s lost her way, she’s been taken over by the radical left,” Trump said of Pelosi.
The speaker effectively endorsed the process, which to some degree had already been underway, after facing fresh pressure from inside the caucus to act.
Pelosi specifically charged that the administration had violated the law by not turning over a whistleblower complaint concerning Trump’s July call with Zelensky. Citing testimony that the director of national intelligence was blocking the release of that complaint, she said: “This is a violation of law. The law is unequivocal.”
But Democrats also slammed the president for seeking the Biden-related probe in Ukraine in the first place.
“This is a classic Mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Wednesday.
Trump had urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Joe Biden has acknowledged on camera that, when he was vice president, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings — where Hunter Biden was on the board. Shokin himself had been separately and widely accused of corruption.
While the transcript shows Trump pressing Ukraine to “look into” the Bidens, it does not show the U.S. president explicitly linking that request to U.S. aid — millions of dollars of which had been frozen days earlier.
Trump first asked Zelensky to do a “favor” and “find out what happened” with the hacking of the DNC server in 2016. He referenced CrowdStrike, a cyberfirm used by the DNC to investigate the attacks.
Then, Trump went on to seek assistance in investigating the Bidens.
“The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great,” Trump said. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
The White House and Trump allies have adamantly denied wrongdoing and described the transcript as exculpatory. White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News on Wednesday that “there’s no quid pro quo and there’s no pressure.”
But Schiff downplayed the absence of any explicit quid pro quo.
Schiff noted that during the call, Trump lamented that the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine was not always “reciprocal,” a comment he made after noting how “very very good” the U.S. had been to Ukraine. Zelensky went on to discuss military assistance — after which, Trump started making his requests regarding Biden.
“There is no quid pro quo necessary to betray your country or your oath of office,” Schiff said.
Author: Andrew O’Reilly