Donald Trump on Monday openly accused former Vice President Joe Biden of being “corrupt” in vague terms and ratcheted up his rhetoric, claiming without proof that if a Republican did what Biden did “they’d be getting the electric chair right now.”
Days after dismissing and downplaying a whistleblower’s complaint, Trump has now acknowledged he discussed Biden in a July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and CNN has reported that the President pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter, according to a person familiar with the situation. That call was also part of a whistleblower complaint submitted to the Intelligence Community Inspector General, another person familiar with the situation told CNN.
But Trump has since tried to obfuscate any wrongdoing on his part and instead try to train the spotlight on Biden.
“Joe Biden and his son are corrupt,” Trump claimed without offering specifics on Monday, his first day at the United Nations General Assembly, an annual gathering of world leaders in New York.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
Trump added: “If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now.”
He did not specify what Biden “did.”
The President also denied claims he put pressure on the Ukrainian leader by threatening to withhold US aid, saying: “I did not make a statement that ‘you have to do this or I’m not going to give you aid.’ I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t do that.”
“There was no pressure put on them whatsoever. I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it probably, possibly would have been OK if I did,” he said.
The Ukrainian government said this of the July 25 call: “Donald Trump is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”
Trump also sent mixed signals on whether he would release a transcript of the call.
“It was a very nice call. I hope you get to see it and I hope you get to see it soon,” he said, but then added that he was hesitant as to whether the transcript would be released, saying it may set a bad precedent for future calls with world leaders.