Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, on Saturday called for an investigation into reports that President Donald Trump pressed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden and his son.
“This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power. To get on the phone with a foreign leader who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me and imply things … this is outrageous,” a visibly angry Biden said while campaigning in Iowa.
“Trump is using this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” Biden said.
Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is at the center of an escalating battle over a whistleblower’s complaint reportedly concerning the U.S. leader’s dealings with Ukraine that the administration has refused to give Congress.
The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets on Friday said Trump repeatedly asked Zelenskiy to investigate unsubstantiated charges that Biden, while vice president, threatened to withhold U.S. aid unless a prosecutor who was looking into a gas company in which Biden’s son was involved was fired.
Trump, reports said, urged Zelenskiy, a comedian who had just won election, to speak with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, has promoted the allegations against Biden and his son, Hunter, and acknowledged that he pressed for a Ukrainian investigation.
Biden has admitted threatening to withhold aid unless the prosecutor was dismissed, a demand also made by the wider U.S. government, the European Union and other international institutions for his alleged failure to pursue major corruption cases.