Joe Biden on Friday called on President Donald Trump to make public a July phone call at the center of a report that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on the Democratic presidential candidate’s family.
“If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country,” Biden said in a statement. “Such clear-cut corruption damages and diminishes our institutions of government by making them tools of a personal political vendetta.”
Biden’s comments come after a report that Trump pressured Ukrainian officials to investigate a potential political opponent — a call that reportedly prompted a whistleblower complaint by a member of the intelligence community that has been stonewalled from congressional review.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted Thursday evening to asking Ukraine to investigate Biden during a rambling — and at times contradictory — interview, having previously claimed that Biden as vice president tried to shield his son Hunter from investigation over ties with a Ukrainian gas company. Biden has denied those allegations.
“Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his assertions,” Biden told reporters after a campaign event Friday. “So, I have no comment except that the president should start to be president.”
The Washington Post first reported Wednesday that the whistleblower complaint, which has led to a showdown between House Democrats and intelligence officials, was over a promise made during phone call with a foreign country’s officials. The Post and The New York Times later reported it involved the Ukrainian government. The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday on Trump’s actions during the phone call.
In his Friday statement, Biden said Trump’s “behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines our national security for political purposes. It means that he used the power and resources of the United States to pressure a sovereign nation—a partner that is still under direct assault from Russia—pushing Ukraine to subvert the rule of law in the express hope of extracting a political favor.”
He continued: “At minimum, Donald Trump should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves, and direct the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to stop stonewalling and release the whistleblower notification to the Congress.”
Biden’s campaign later Friday sent out a fundraising email hours after the Journal’s report was published.
“Eight. That’s how many times Donald Trump asked a foreign leader to investigate me and my family,” the email said. “It’s more clear than ever: We’re in a battle for the soul of this nation. And now, I need you — right now. Can I count on you to donate tonight?”
Trump dismissed the reports as a “ridiculous story” and the whistleblower as a “partisan person,” but added “it doesn’t matter what I discussed” during the call. “Someone ought to look into Biden,” the president continued.
Democratic lawmakers called foul last week after acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire refused to disclose the whistleblower complaint to Congress.
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff threatened Thursday to force the Trump administration to disclose the complaint, with actions ranging from suing the administration to pulling funding for Office of the Director of National Intelligence.