The Slatest

Trump Defends “Perfectly Fine and Routine” Call With Ukraine Leader

President Donald Trump mocks former vice president Joe Biden by calling him "sleepy Joe Biden" at a "Keep America Great" campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, on August 15, 2019.
President Donald Trump mocks former Vice President Joe Biden by calling him “sleepy Joe Biden” at a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Aug. 15. Nihcolas Kamm/Getty Images

President Donald Trump is trying really hard to make sure that the scandal involving his July phone call with the Ukrainian president turns into trouble for former Vice President Joe Biden. Amid reports that Trump asked the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of the 2020 presidential hopeful, eight separate times during a phone call this summer, Trump says the media is only focusing on that to avoid covering the former vice president’s ties to Ukraine.

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party,” are avoiding reporting on the allegations against Biden “so they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine,” Trump tweeted Saturday* morning. The president added that nothing was said in the phone call “that was in any way wrong.” The tweets continue the message Trump also pushed on Friday, when he told reporters that “someone ought to look into Joe Biden” when he was asked about his call with Zelensky.

Biden is calling on Trump to prove that he has nothing to hide and release the transcript of his call with Zelensky. “If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country. This behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines our national security for political purposes,” Biden said in a statement. “At minimum, Donald Trump should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves.”

According to a statement released by Kyiv about the call, Trump and Zelensky talked about how “the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” But beyond those general platitudes, Trump went on to specifically press Ukraine to reopen the corruption investigation relating to Biden’s son. Days later, Rudy Giuliani met with an aid to Zelensky in Madrid “and spelled out two specific causes he believed Ukraine should pursue,” according to the Washington Post.

Correction, Sept. 21, 2019, at 11:30 a.m.: This post initially misstated President Donald Trump’s tweets were published Sunday. They were published Saturday.