US President Donald Trump yesterday demanded that impeachment probe against him should end after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied that Trump tried to blackmail him by withholding military aid to Kiev in a phone call between the two leaders.
“There was no blackmail,” the comedian-turned-politician told a news conference. A transcript of the phone conversation on July 25 showed Trump asked Zelensky to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.
The US president’s request that Zelensky probe the activities of Joe Biden’s son Hunter has sparked an impeachment probe in the US, with the Democrats looking into whether Trump used a delayed aid package as leverage.
“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told reporters Thursday his controversial July call with President Trump involved no bribe, blackmail or quid pro quo, as impeachment-minded Democrats claim,” tweeted Trump.
“This should immediately end the talk of impeachment!”
The development came a day after Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden for the first time called for Trump’s impeachment, saying the president “betrayed” the United States.
“To preserve our constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity, he should be impeached,” he said.
Trump wanted Kiev to investigate Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukrainian gas firm Burisma.
“The story with Burisma has nothing to do with weapons,” Zelensky told the press conference, held in a Kiev food court. The sole aim of the phone call, he said, was to plan a meeting with Trump.
He added that there were no “conditions” from the US side to set up the meeting.
Meanwhile a poll by Fox News, a TV channel generally viewed as sympathetic to the president, showed that “a new high” of 51 percent of voters want Trump impeached and removed from office.
Having threatened a constitutional crisis by refusing to cooperate with the congressional investigation, Trump predicted that the row would end up “being a big Supreme Court case.”
Even if the House impeaches Trump, it remains unlikely that the Republican-led Senate would convict him in the subsequent trial.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration blocked a potentially major witness, ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland, from testifying before Congress. Later the same day, the White House announced in a lengthy legal statement that it rejected any cooperation with the Democrats at all.