- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2019

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries on Friday said President Trump could have “exploited” Ukraine’s vulnerability to try to dig up dirt on a political opponent.

Mr. Jeffries was responding to new reporting from The Washington Post that Ukraine was at the center of a whistleblower complaint saying Mr. Trump made a “promise” to a foreign leader in a phone call over the summer.

He said Ukraine is in “crisis,” and that Russia illegally attacked the country and annexed Crimea.

SEE ALSO: Trump taps Clinton, Obama precedent on whistleblower executive privilege

“We don’t know what that dynamic is, but Ukraine is in a very vulnerable situation, and the president potentially could have exploited that vulnerability in order to try to extract an investigation that could be politically damaging to an opponent that he is clearly concerned about by the name of Joe Biden,” Mr. Jeffries, New York Democrat, said on CNN’s “New Day.”

“In this country, no one is above the law — not the president of the United States. So we need to get to the bottom of what may have happened,” he said.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson appeared on Capitol Hill behind closed doors on Thursday and said the complaint was related to multiple acts but wouldn’t confirm that it was connected to Mr. Trump, according to lawmakers.

Mr. Trump on Thursday said he wouldn’t be stupid enough to make such promises on such a call with a foreign leader.

“[I]s anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!” the president said on Twitter.

Earlier this month, House Democrats had announced an investigation into whether a hold-up in $250 million in security assistance to Ukraine was part of an effort on the part of the president “to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing politically motivated investigations, including of former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.”

Several days later, the White House indicated it would release the funds.

The House investigation also had to do with whether former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, reached out to Ukraine to try to help Mr. Trump politically. Mr. Biden is the front-runner in the Democratic presidential race.

In an appearance on CNN Thursday evening, Mr. Giuliani said there would be nothing wrong with Mr. Trump’s leaning on Ukraine to extract such a concession.

“The reality is that the president of the United States, whoever he is, has every right to tell the president of another country you better straighten out the corruption in your country if you want me to give you a lot of money,” he said.

He initially denied asking Ukraine to look into Mr. Biden, then appeared to confirm that he did.

“Of course, I did,” he said. “I asked them to look into the allegations which related to my client which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive bribery scheme.”

The New York Times reported earlier this year that on a trip to Kiev in March 2016, Mr. Biden had threatened to withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees if Ukrainian officials didn’t dismiss a prosecutor who was reportedly eyeing an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was on the board of the company at the time.

“All the reporting has indicated that there is not a single, solitary thing was inappropriate about what my son did. He never once talked to me — never once talked to anybody in the administration,” Mr. Biden said in May.

Mr. Giuliani questioned whether everything was above board.

“If you want a motive for it, his son was under investigation,” he said. “And if he didn’t know his son was under investigation, then he is truly mentally ill.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide