- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2019

President Trump’s phone call to a foreign leader that prompted whistleblower allegations of misconduct was with the Ukraine president about a corruption probe involving Joseph R. Biden’s son, according to a report.

In the July phone call, Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, who has served on the board of a Ukraine gas company since 2014 when his father was vice president, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mr. Trump wanted the Ukraine president to work with his private attorney, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, investigating the corruption case.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” if his lawyer’s assertions that Mr. Biden acted improperly as vice president were true, a source familiar with the call told the newspaper.

The revelation this week of the whistleblower’s allegation that Mr. Trump acted inappropriately in a conversation with a foreign leader stirred wild speculation in Washington and prompted an emergency meeting by the House Intelligence Committee.

The newspaper report directed the conversation away from Russia and North Korea but opened a new round of speculation about Mr. Trump’s misuse of his office to advance his 2020 re-election campaign.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani said they had done nothing wrong.

“It’s just another political hack job,” said Mr. Trump, who said he didn’t know the identity of the whistleblower.

The potential corruption stems from Mr. Biden’s actions in March 2016, when he was vice president and visiting Kiev. He threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees if the nation’s leaders did not fire Ukraine’s chief prosecutor.

Mr. Biden said the prosecutor was “turning a blind eye to corruption in his own office and among the political elite.” But the prosecutor was also investigating Ukraine gas company Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden had a high-paying seat on the board.

The prosecutor was fired soon after Mr. Biden’s visit.

On Friday, Mr. Biden, who is the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, told reporters that “not one single credible outlet has given any credibility” to the assertions of corruption.

Later, Mr. Biden released a statement refocusing the corruption charge on Mr. Trump.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Mr. Biden said the “clear-cut corruption” by Mr. Trump both damages and diminishes American institutions of government by making them “tools of a personal political vendetta.”

“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,” Mr. Biden said.

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