Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said the whistleblower who raised concerns about President Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s new president should “come forward” so that Congress can decide if punishment is in order.
Mr. Murphy also said the White House’s decision to release held-up aid to Ukraine as the whistleblower issue surfaced is “incredibly suspicious.”
Mr. Trump says he didn’t do anything wrong during a July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though he appeared to suggest Sunday he did bring up his Democratic foe, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, and possible “corruption” in Ukraine involving Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter.
Mr. Murphy is among Democrats who say the White House needs to let the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, share the whistleblower’s concerns with Congress.
“I think that if we do have the evidence from this whistleblower that the president indeed did try to bully a foreign power into affecting our elections then we have to do something about it,” Mr. Murphy told NBC’s Meet the Press.
Mr. Trump released $250 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine on Sept. 12, as Capitol Hill asked questions and as the whistleblower standoff began to surface.
“The timing is obviously incredibly suspicious,” Mr. Murphy said. “There was also a pending vote in the appropriations committee that was going to require next year’s aid to be released outside of the discretion of the president. There are likely a bunch of different explanations — political pressure was mounting on the president from Republicans — but obviously the timing of this looks really terrible.”
Democrats are worried that Mr. Trump held up $250 million in aid as part of a bid to dig up dirt on Mr. Biden through his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The aid was eventually released Sept. 12, though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky complained about the holdup during Mr. Murphy’s visit to Kiev.
“The government and Zelensky was personally was really worried about these overtures he was getting from particularly from Rudy Giuliani, and he didn’t understand whether this was an official government position, these requests to investigate the former vice president,” Mr. Murphy said. “So, I went here to make it clear to him, that the worst thing that he could do for the U.S.-Ukraine relationship is to get involved in an election here in the United States.”
“He asked us what was going on with the aid, why was it being withheld,” Mr. Murphy said. “He seemed very concerned and out of sorts about it.”
Mr. Trump on Sunday suggested the delay was related to his push to get other countries pony up a fair share for Ukraine.
“I backed Ukraine from the beginning, but I’m very upset that other countries aren’t doing the same,” Mr. Trump said. “Germany should be spending much more, France, all of the European Union should be spending money. Why are we spending money and they’re not? Or at least they’re spending very little by comparison, so I’m not happy about that.”