Washington, Sep 23 (efe-epa).- The scandal over President Donald Trump’s contacts with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, regarding investigating the son of former Vice President Joe Biden – the current front-running Democratic presidential contender – continued expanding on Monday with Senate Democrats demanding the opening of a probe on the matter.
Several House committees are currently investigating whether Trump delayed some $250 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine as he allegedly pressured Zelensky to look into Biden’s activities in that nation.
The head of the Democratic minority in the upper chamber, Chuck Schumer, sent a letter to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in which he demanded that the conservatives issue a subpoena to the administration to force it to turn over the so-called whistleblower complaint to Congress “as required by law.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump had repeatedly asked Zelensky in a telephone call to investigate Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son.
According to the paper, citing persons with knowledge of the matter, during the call Trump asked Zelensky up to eight times to work with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to investigate the younger Biden’s business dealings and contacts in Ukraine.
Trump spoke with Zelensky two weeks before a US intelligence official filed an internal whistleblower complaint on Aug. 12, a move that alerted Congress to the matter.
In his letter, Schumer said that “The Republican-led Senate has remained silent and submissive, shying away from this institution’s constitutional obligation to conduct oversight. The Republican Senate’s ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ attitude (regarding) such a serious national security concern is unacceptable and must change.”
Trump has claimed Biden demanded the 2014 removal of a notoriously corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor to hinder the probe into a Ukrainian gas company on which he was a board member at the time. Ukrainian authorities, however, have cleared Biden of any wrongdoing.
The president said that his call with Zelensky was perfectly routine and that he did not say or do anything that would be improper or unlawful.
However, on Sunday, he then admitted that he had spoken about Biden with Zelensky, telling reporters at the White House that “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
On Monday morning in New York, where he had traveled to participate in the United Nations General Assembly, Trump responded to a reporter’s question about whether he was taking seriously the possibility that he could be impeached over the whistleblower matter, saying: “Not at all seriously. … We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine. Everybody knows it. It’s just a Democrat witch hunt.”
The allegation that Trump threatened to withhold $250 million in congressionally approved funding for Ukraine if Zelenski did not launch a probe of Biden and his son, if true, could amount to the president demanding that a foreign government attempt to dig up dirt on a rival Democrat to help his re-election campaign.
Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren, on Friday, tweeted: “After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.”