A defiant President Trump said during a press conference in New York Wednesday that he wants “full transparency” not only over the “so-called whistleblower” allegations leveled against him, but also “from Joe Biden and his son Hunter on the millions of dollars that have been quickly and easily taken out of Ukraine and China.”
Trump additionally demanded “transparency from Democrats who went to Ukraine and attempted to force the new president … to do things that they wanted under the form of political threat. They threatened him if he didn’t do things — now that’s what they’re accusing me of, but I didn’t do it.”
The aggressive move signaled that the White House would seek to turn the tables against Democrats who have initiated an impeachment inquiry, following the whistleblower’s complaint that Trump had improperly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden. Zelensky, speaking across from Trump just an hour earlier, told reporters he did not feel “pushed” at all in his conversations with the president.
Earlier in the day, the White House released a transcript of Trump’s July call with Zelensky, showing Trump sought a review of Biden family dealings in the country. But the transcript also did not demonstrate that Trump leveraged military aid to Ukraine to obtain a “promise” on a Biden investigation, as a widely cited report in The Washington Post had claimed.
At the press conference, Trump specifically called attention to a little-discussed CNN report from May, which described how Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez, Dick Durbin, and Patrick Leahy pushed Ukraine’s top prosecutor not to close four investigations perceived as critical to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe — and, by Democrats’ current logic, seemingly implied that their support for U.S. aid to Ukraine was at stake.
“The Democrats have done what they’re accusing me of doing,” Trump said.
— NRCC (@NRCC) September 25, 2019
The Democratic senators wrote in a letter to Ukraine’s leader at the time: “In four short years, Ukraine has made significant progress in building [democratic] institutions despite ongoing military, economic, and political pressure from Moscow. We have supported [the] capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these [democratic] principles to avoid the ire of President Trump.”
The senators called for the top prosecutor to “reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.”
The Post’s Marc Thiessen initially flagged the letter on Tuesday, calling it evidence of a “double standard” among Democrats.
“Senator Chris Murphy literally threatened the president of Ukraine that if he doesn’t do things right, they won’t have Democrat support in Congress,” Trump added.
That was a reference to the Connecticut Democrat’s comments at a bipartisan meeting in Kiev earlier this month, when Murphy called U.S. aid the “most important asset” of Ukraine — then issued a warning.
“I told Zelensky that he should not insert himself or his government into American politics,” Murphy said, according to The Hill. “I cautioned him that complying with the demands of the President’s campaign representatives to investigate a political rival of the President would gravely damage the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. There are few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on in Washington these days, and support for Ukraine is one of them.”
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