The Slatest

Trump Confirms He Brought Up Biden in “Absolutely Perfect” Phone Call With Ukraine Leader

President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, on September 22, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks to the press as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, on September 22, 2019. ALASTAIR PIKE/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has stopped with the euphemisms and admitted Sunday that he spoke about former vice president Joe Biden in a July phone call with the president of Ukraine. “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption — all of the corruption taking place — 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 and Ukraine has got a lot of problems,” Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn Sunday. “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.”

Although Trump had already implied Biden was talked about during the call, the statement Sunday marked his first direct acknowledgement. But Trump insisted there was nothing wrong with the call. “The conversation, by the way, was absolutely perfect,” he said. “It was a beautiful, warm, nice conversation.” The president said he would consider releasing a transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, although he said it raises delicate questions. “You have to be a little bit shy about doing that,” Trump said.

Administration officials went on the Sunday talk shows to push back against the increasing call from Democrats to release a transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky. “Those are private conversations between world leaders, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so except in the most extreme circumstances,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on ABC’s This Week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told NBC’s Meet the Press that “it would be highly inappropriate to release a transcript of a call between two world leaders.” Mnuchin added that it would set “a difficult precedent.” Pompeo, like his boss, tried to shift focus away from Trump’s call and said Biden is the one who should be investigated. “If Vice President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that,” Pompeo said.