President Donald Trump has suggested that he spoke to the leader of Ukraine about former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.
Trump told reporters that he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a telephone call on July 25. He described the call as “congratulatory” and said one issue they discussed was corruption in Ukraine. Trump told reporters that he raised Biden as an example of corruption.
“It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump said. He spoke to reporters while he was leaving the White House for a trip to Texas.
Hunter Biden served on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company. The Associated Press (AP) says there is no evidence of wrongdoing by him or the former vice president.
Joe Biden is seeking to become the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. If successful, he would compete against Trump for the presidency in the 2020 elections.
Biden accused Trump of making an unfounded political smear.
Some Democratic lawmakers have been calling for congressional investigations into whether Trump misused his office for political gain. They accuse him of asking foreign governments to provide information that could affect the U.S. election. Such an act, they say, is an impeachable offense.
Democrats also accuse the Trump administration of refusing to give Congress important information about the president’s actions.
Trump’s phone call with Zelenskiy is believed to be part of a whistleblower complaint. By law, the results of the government’s investigation must be shared with Congress. However, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has refused to give Congress the information. He says the president has “privilege.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said Sunday that Maguire must provide the information to Congress. If not, the country “will be entering a (serious) new chapter.”
The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported that Trump pushed Zelenskiy eight times to investigate the Bidens. Trump wanted an investigation into whether the Ukrainian company tried to buy influence by offering a job to Hunter Biden while his father was vice president.
The report says Trump was trying to get Zelenskiy to work with Trump's lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, to investigate the Bidens.
Andriy Yermak is an aide to the Ukrainian president. Ukrainian media reported that he told Giuliani that any investigation in Ukraine would be done “transparently.”
Hunter Biden started working for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings in April 2014. Two months earlier, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president was removed from office. Joe Biden was involved in efforts to help the new pro-western government and its promise to fight corruption.
The owner of the gas company was an ally of the ousted president. Some observers thought the company was trying to gain influence with the U.S. government by offering a job to Hunter Biden.
In 2016, Joe Biden pushed the Ukrainian government to remove its prosecutor general. The prosecutor was accused by many in Ukraine and in the West of being easy on corruption.
Trump says the Ukrainian official was investigating the Bidens. There is no evidence of this, however.
Trump told reporters that he said “nothing wrong” in the call to Zelenskiy.
Trump told reporters he will look into releasing details or a transcript of the call. He added that foreign leaders should feel free to speak honestly with an American president without fear those comments could be made public.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham admitted there can be “10 to 20 people” listening in on such calls.
The whistleblower complaint came after several events, not just the July 25 call between Trump and Zelenskiy. This information comes from two people who know the details of the complaint. The AP agreed to their request not to use their names in this report.
I’m Susan Shand.
The Associated Press and the Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in this Story
smear - n. an untrue story about a person that is meant to hurt that person's image
impeach – v. to charge a government official with a crime done while in office
whistleblower – n. a person who tells police or reporters about something (such as a crime) that has been kept secret
complaint – n. the act of saying or writing that you are unhappy or dissatisfied with something
privilege – n. the right to keep important information private
chapter – n. the next step or period
transparent – adj. open to the public, easily seen
prosecutor – n. a lawyer working for the government
transcript – n. a written or printed copy of something said by one or more persons