U.S. President Donald Trump says he will be open about his dealings with Ukraine’s president, and insists he did nothing wrong, when he asked the foreign leader to investigate the family of one of Trump’s political rivals.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, he called on his political opponents to be open about their dealings with the U.S. ally.
CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg has details.
The call was with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. This was the first time the American and Ukrainian Presidents have met in person.
Their meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations was planned well before Tuesday’s announcement by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives that they’ll begin formal impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump.
That decision was triggered in part by a phone call Trump had back in July with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.
On Wednesday, the White House released a partial transcript of that call. In it, Trump asks Zelensky for “a favor.”
To investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s son, who had served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Joe Biden is running for president against Trump.
Trump admits he made the request. But denies it was connected to Washington’s pending defense aid package for Kiev. Still, it seems whatever was said during the phone conversation was enough to prompt an intelligence whistleblower to ring the alarm over the summer.
That complaint was finally delivered to lawmakers on Wednesday.
“I support transparency, even though it was supposedly second-hand information,” Trump said at an afternoon news conference. “But I also insist on transparency from Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Additionally, I demand transparency from Democrats who went to Ukraine, and threatened the new president if he didn’t do things.”
House Democrats said their actions were lawful. Trump’s, they insist, weren’t.
“That a president of the United States would interfere with our national security, would interfere with the security of our ally, and do so for the illicit purpose of trying to advance his campaign, having already sought foreign help in his first presidential campaign, would now abuse the power of his office, yet again, this time to seek the help of another nation in his presidential campaign, is the most fundamental betrayal of his oath of office,” said the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff.
“This is a political proceeding,” said political analyst Steve Chaggaris. “Therefore there’s no threshold for anybody to meet in terms of a legal standard. The president doesn’t have to come up with any proof that he did something or didn’t do something. And the Democrats really don’t have to have any proof that says beyond a reasonable doubt the president did what he did. All they have to do is convince the American people. That’s the big point here.”
And that could be an uphill battle. Before this week’s announcement, polls showed a majority of Americans were opposed to impeaching the President.
Even the Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, had said: “We’ll get rid of Trump at the ballot box.” Clearly, she changed her mind. And Democrats are betting the American public will as well.