Sep 23, 2019

Trump doubles down on defense of Ukraine conversation about Biden

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

While speaking to reporters at the UN General Assembly gathering on Monday, President Trump doubled down on claims that he was right to discuss Joe Biden and his son during a July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? One of the reasons [Zelensky] got elected is he was going to stop corruption. So it's very important that on occasion you speak to somebody about corruption. Very important.”

Why it matters: There is no evidence for Trump and Rudy Giuliani's claims that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor because he was investigating his son, according to a New York Times fact-check. Trump has denied that there was "quid pro quo" involved in his conversation with Zelensky, but he seemed to suggest in his comments Monday that he would not provide foreign aid to a country that is "corrupt."

  • After withholding $250 million in foreign aid for an "interagency review," the Trump administration released the money to Ukraine earlier this month. There is no evidence that the release is tied to Trump's calls for Ukraine to investigate Biden.

What they're saying: Trump denied that he pressured Zelensky in any way and accused the "crooked" media of covering for Biden because he's a Democrat.

  • "If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they’d be getting the electric chair right now," Trump said. "Look at the double standards. You people ought to be ashamed of yourself."
  • Asked whether he would release the transcript of his call with Zelensky, Trump said he "may do it" and that he hopes the public can see it soon. He then added that he doesn't think releasing calls with foreign leaders sets a "great precedent" and that he's concerned the media would misconstrue the story.

Go deeper: Key House committees threaten subpoenas over Trump-Ukraine allegations

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Trump to meet Ukraine's Zelensky at UN amid impeachment frenzy

Photos: Ludovic Marin, Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump is set to meet face to face with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine for the first time today at the UN General Assembly — right as the House is launching an impeachment inquiry around his July phone call with Zelensky.

What to watch: A senior White House official told reporters Trump will congratulate Zelensky on his election win and his “energy and success” so far on anti-corruption reforms. Trump will also raise trade and “his concerns about what he sees as some predatory Chinese economic activity in Ukraine,” the official said.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019

Trump-Ukraine scandal: The key players, dates and documents

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The House's impeachment inquiry has been driven forward by new disclosures of what exactly President Trump wanted the government of Ukraine to do — revealed in 3 key documents, but nonetheless distorted and disputed along the way.

We've gathered the key players, events and disclosures of the Trump-Ukraine saga in one place to clear up what's happened so far and examine where we go from here.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019

Report: Trump ordered Ukraine aid freeze days before call to its leader

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid for Ukraine days before he phoned the country's president and allegedly urged him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, the Washington Post and New York Times report.

Details: The White House told Axios that the reports, published late Monday, are "completely false." WashPost reported that officials in the administration's Office of Management and Budget notified the Pentagon and State Department about the request at an interagency meeting in July.

Go deeperArrowSep 24, 2019