As President Trump arrived at the United Nations for this week's General Assembly he once again defended a phone call that he had with the leader of Ukraine that now is at the center of a controversy involving a national security whistle-blower.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine.
Everybody knows it.
It's just a Democrat witch hunt.
Here we go again." And he shrugged off the subject of impeachment.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP TAKING QUESTION FROM REPORTER: REPORTER: "How seriously are you taking the impeachment talk?" TRUMP: "Not at all seriously." Multiple media outlets last week reported the whistle-blower complaint concerns a July 25 phone call where Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and his son, a claim which Trump on Sunday (September 22) appeared to acknowledge discussing on the call.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "We don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the, the corruption already in the Ukraine." Democrats are blasting the president, saying his actions are tantamount to promoting foreign interference in the 2020 election and abuse of power.
Furthermore Democrats want to know if Trump threatened to hold back congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip.
Trump has denied any quid pro quo.
But on Monday (September 23) he suggested he may have had good reason for withholding aid to Ukraine.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?" There are growing calls for the administration to release a transcript of the call Former Secretary of State John Kerry made the case to CBS News on Sunday.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY, SAYING: "The only way to get at it is release the transcript.
Let everybody see what the president said and if he leveraged American foreign policy and foreign aid to- to get a president of another country to be the opposition research arm of his campaign, that is a fundamental profound and deeply disturbing abuse of power." In a letter released Sunday night House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added her voice the growing chorus demanding the acting Director of National Intelligence hand over the complaint, saying, “if the administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.” Donald Trump has claimed, without evidence, that as Vice President Joe Biden improperly pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor investigating businesses linked to Biden's son.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "What Biden did is a disgrace.
What his son did is a disgrace." And administration officials over the weekend defended the right to investigate alleged improper activity by government officials.
Campaigning in Iowa, Joe Biden pushed back.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CANDIDATE JOE BIDEN, SAYING: "Focus on the violation of the Constitution this president is engaged in." The acting Director of National Intelligence is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday (September 26).