Thu, 24 Oct 2019

WASHINGTON -- Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has demanded that President Donald Trump release the transcript of a call in which Trump reportedly pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son, who did business in Ukraine.

In a statement released on September 20, Biden said Trump 'should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves.'

Biden, who is campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in 2020, also said the director of national intelligence should 'stop stonewalling' and release to Congress a secret complaint about the call filed by a whistle-blower.

The U.S. House of Representatives is investigating media reports alleging that Trump threatened during a phone call to withhold U.S. military support to Ukraine unless Zelenskiy's administration looked into the actions of then-U.S. Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has accused Biden of ordering Ukraine to fire its prosecutor-general to halt an investigation into gas producer Burisma Holdings.

Biden's son Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma at the time.

Democrats have claimed that, if true, a threat by Trump to withhold aid unless a foreign leader investigates a U.S. political rival would be a serious abuse of power, with many saying it would be an impeachable offense.

'Any effort by Trump to pressure a foreign government to dig up dirt on his political opponent, while holding up vital military aid to that country, is both corrupt and a grave threat to American interests,' Adam Schiff, Democrat chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a tweet.

Following the launch of the House investigation into the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call, the White House announced last week it would release $250 million in military aid to Ukraine that had previously been held up.

The aid is largely meant to train and equip Ukrainian forces as they fight against Russia-backed separatists in a war that has lasted more than five years, killed more than 13,000 people, and torn apart a large swath of eastern Ukraine.

With reporting by AFP and AP

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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