President Donald Trump arrives at Lima Allen Airport to participate in a tour of Pratt Industries with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Lima, Ohio.
President Donald Trump arrives at Lima Allen Airport to participate in a tour of Pratt Industries with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Lima, Ohio. AP Photo - Evan Vucci

Trump discussed corruption in Ukraine call

US President Donald Trump says he spoke to Ukraine's new president about his election and the fact that "we don't want our people, like vice president Biden and his son" contributing to corruption already happening in the Eastern European nation.

Trump appeared to stop just short of acknowledging that he discussed potential Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden and Biden's son, Hunter, with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky during a July 25 telephone conversation that is now the basis of a whistleblower complaint against the president.

"The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place," Trump said before departing on a trip to Texas and Ohio.

"Was largely the fact that we don't want our people, like vice president Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine....

"Ukraine's got a lot of problems," he added.

"The new president is saying that he's going to be able to rid the country of corruption and I said that would be a great thing. We had a great conversation. We had a conversation on many things."

A person familiar with the matter has told The Associated Press that Trump urged Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, who worked for a Ukrainian gas company.

Trump insisted anew on Sunday that he said "absolutely nothing wrong" to Zelensky, describing the conversation as "absolutely a 10" and "perfect".

He did not answer directly when asked if he would release a transcript of the conversation to the public.

The president also seemed to suggest that his assurances that he behaved appropriately during the call should be enough to satisfy critics.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request to clarify the president's comments referencing the Bidens.

Trump later told reporters he will look into releasing details or a transcript of the call, but stressed that foreign leaders do not want things like that to be made public and that they should feel free to speak frankly with a US president without concerns about later disclosure.

Trump said if Ukraine released its own transcript, it would be same as his version of the call.

Trump and Zelensky plan to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this week.

It comes as Democrats called for an investigation and impeachment.

If an investigation shows that US President Donald Trump pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Joe Biden, then impeachment would be the only option, US House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff said.

"If the president is essentially withholding military aid at the same time that he is trying to browbeat a foreign leader to do something illicit, to provide dirt on his opponent during a presidential campaign, then that may be the only remedy that is co-equal to the evil that conduct represents," Schiff said on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.

Other Democrats, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, and New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, have called for Democratic leadership to pursue impeachment immediately.


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