Transcript shows Trump did ask Ukraine to investigate Biden
Released call transcript shows he asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden
WASHINGTON : The White House released a call transcript yesterday confirming Donald Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to probe his political rival Joe Biden - a day after Democrats seized on the explosive allegation to launch an impeachment process.
"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great," Mr Trump told Mr Volodymyr Zelensky in the July 25 call, reported AFP.
As Mr Barack Obama's vice-president, Mr Biden and other Western leaders pressured Ukraine to get rid of the country's top prosecutor, Mr Viktor Shokin, because he was seen as not tough enough on corruption.
"Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it," Mr Trump said.The five-page document - a summary of the call rather than a word-for-word record - was released as Mr Trump was preparing to meet Mr Zelensky on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Democrats are investigating whether Mr Trump pressured a foreign government to look into a political opponent, and if he used a US$400 million (S$550m) aid package as leverage. There was no mention of the money in the summary.
The July 25 phone call was among the subjects in a whistleblower complaint that has so far not been made available to lawmakers.
The White House had previously blocked the legally required release of the complaint to Congress' intelligence committees.
Lawyers representing the whistleblower said in a statement on Tuesday that there had been a "decision to release the whistleblower complaint", but did not provide further details.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announced that the Democratic-led House was moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry and directed six committees to proceed with investigations of the president's actions.
Democrats have accused Mr Trump, who is seeking re-election next year, of soliciting Ukraine's help to smear Mr Biden, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, before the 2020 election.
The House inquiry could lead to articles of impeachment in the House that could trigger a trial in the Senate on whether to remove Mr Trump from office.
Under the US Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president for "high crimes and misdemeanors".
No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. - REUTERS