WASHINGTON (CN) – Vice President Joe Biden called on President Donald Trump on Friday to release the transcript of a call with the Ukrainian president in which Trump reportedly tried to convince the country to investigate the Democratic presidential front-runner’s son.
“If these reports are true, then there is truly no bottom to President Trump’s willingness to abuse his power and abase our country,” Biden said in a statement. “This behavior is particularly abhorrent because it exploits the foreign policy of our country and undermines our national security for political purposes.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski roughly eight times to work with Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to probe Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian gas company. The call is reportedly at the heart of the fight over a secretive intelligence community whistleblower complaint that has exploded into public view in recent days.
Democrats expressed outrage over the Wall Street Journal’s report, accusing Trump of trying to use his position to scuttle the hopes of his chief rival in the 2020 presidential campaign. In the weeks after the call, Politico reported the Trump administration was slow-walking a military aid package to Ukraine, though The Associated Press reported Friday the aid did not come up in the call.
“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,” Representative Adam Schiff of California, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted Friday. “No explicit quid pro quo is necessary to betray your country.”
Trump has dismissed the complaint as from a “partisan whistleblower,” but the incident has roiled Democrats in Congress, who are demanding access to information about it.
A whistleblower filed a complaint, reportedly about Trump’s request, and deemed it an “urgent concern” which would trigger a mandatory process to disclose the complaint to congressional intelligence committees. But Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, after consulting with the Justice Department, disagreed with the designation and determined the complaint did not have to go to Congress.
Schiff has scheduled a hearing next week to hear from Maguire and the inspector general for the intelligence community briefed lawmakers on the complaint Thursday.