Refusing to back away from a major political scandal, President Donald Trump undermined Speaker Nancy Pelosi while lobbing new allegations of corruption at one of Democratic 2020 frontrunner Joe Biden’s sons.
The president told reporters Wednesday there “was no pressure” during a July call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy to force him to investigate the Bidens. He also denied asking Pelosi during a Tuesday phone call to cool the impeachment push, saying, “She’s been taken over by the radical left.”
The president accused the California Democrat of changing her mind on impeachment after a group of moderates flipped to supporting it as details of his call with Zelenskiy emerged.
He said he called Pelosi about guns, but “she’s not interested in gun safety,” only going after him. Pelosi, however, said Trump steered that conversation toward averting an impeachment inquiry.
“As far as I’m concerned, she’s no longer the speaker of the House,” Trump said before dismissing a group of reporters.
Pelosi is, in fact, the speaker. A sitting president cannot dismiss a speaker as easily as the travel pool covering him at a gathering of world leaders.
When asked about pressuring Zelenskiy, Trump said, “All you have to do is see it, what was on the call.” An account of the call released by the administration shows he asks for a “favor” and repeatedly notes the U.S. has “been very, very good” to Zelenskiy’s country while the EU, he says, has not.
Hours after a partial White House summary of a July phone conversation with Ukraine’s new president, in which he asked Zelenskiy to look into the Bidens, Trump said Hunter Biden earned “millions of dollars” in Ukraine. The president and suggested Hunter Biden took Air Force Two to China to collect “$1.5 billion.”
“When Biden’s son walks away with millions of dollars from Ukraine, and he knows nothing, and they’re paying him millions of dollars, that’s corruption,” Trump said, referring to Hunter Biden’s work with a Ukrainian energy firm. The president and attorney Rudolph Giuliani contend the Biden son was not an energy guru.
“When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China, and he’s there for one quick meeting, and he flies in on Air Force Two, I think that’s a horrible thing,” Trump said.
It was not immediately clear from where Trump got any of that information. The president has uttered thousands of false statements since taking office, according to the Washington Post’s fact-checking team.
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham had not responded to an email asking about the sources the president used to form his claims.
Trump’s claims are undermined by multiple former Ukrainian government officials who have told media outlets neither Biden was found to have conducted any wrongdoing.
The president also referred to a video recording of the then-vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations explaining how he pressed the previous Ukrainian government to oust a prosecutor Biden and other Western leaders deemed corrupt.
“He’s on tape,” Trump said of Biden. “He’s either dumb or he thought he was in a room of really good friends.”
Biden is heard on the clip saying he told officials there he was leaving in “six hours” and the prosecutor should be fired or a U.S. military aid package would be frozen. A full playing of that CFR event clearly shows Biden was talking about efforts to help other Western leaders force out the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
Right-wing commentators have used a portion of Biden’s remarks in videos posted online in a way to portray him as discussing that prosecutor reportedly investigating his son.
Multiple media outlets have reported, however, that prosecutor appeared to be investigating a side company, not the one that employed Hunter Biden.
The president’s comments again highlighted Trump’s willingness to push far-right conspiracy theories or outright falsehoods — especially when in political trouble.