President Donald Trump on Saturday sought to deflect the glare of the Ukraine whistleblower controversy onto Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, echoing a public campaign by his allies to discredit his potential political opponent while continuing to play down his own role in it.
“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine.” Trump wrote.
“Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster. The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!” Trump continued.
In Trump’s most direct comments yet on Biden, he amplified allegations that during the Obama administration, the then-vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid from Ukraine while demanding the firing of a state prosecutor who was looking into a gas company where Biden’s son, Hunter, held a board position.
Citing a potential conflict of interest, PolitiFact has rated similar allegations against Biden as “half-true,” with the caveat that the accusation overreaches “by assuming that Joe Biden acted to protect the company his son was affiliated with,” and noting that the Ukrainian prosecutor had drawn widespread criticism on his record of fighting corruption.
Trump’s claim comes after multiple reports that the president repeatedly pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate Hunter Biden, prompting a whistleblower complaint by an intelligence official and a stonewalled congressional review.
Trump on Friday did not deny that he discussed the Biden allegations with a foreign leader, but asserted that his exchanges with fellow heads of government are “always appropriate.”
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