Donald Trump asked the president of Ukraine to work with the United States Attorney General to try and dig up dirt on potential 2020 rival Joe Biden.
A transcript of a telephone call between the President of the United States and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky was released Wednesday after formal efforts to oust Trump from the White House commenced over the controversial communication.
It sees Trump suggest to Zelensky that former Vice President Joe Biden – who hopes to stand against Trump in the 2020 presidential election – interfered into a potential prosecution of a Ukrainian energy firm whose board members included his son Hunter.
Trump also appeared to suggest that the probe into that gas company, Burisma, should be restarted.
And he went on to offer the services of his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani as well as US Attorney General Bill Barr, to work with Ukraine on any such probe.
He now faces allegations of using the powers of American law enforcement to work with a US ally for personal political advantage.
Trump critics also say there is no way he could justify his Biden probe proposals as being in the national interest of the United States. It also emerged Tuesday that the contents of the call have already been referred to the US Justice Department, who have decided not to investigate its contents further.
Trump said: ‘The other thing, 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.
‘Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…
‘It sounds horrible to me.’
He continued: ‘Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me..’I will have Mr Giuliani give you call & I’m also going to have Attorney General Barr call & we will get to the bottom if it. I’m sure you will figure it out.’
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing on either Joe or Hunter Biden’s part.
Trump had been accused of withholding $400million of aid to Ukraine until the probe was launched, although there is no mention of the cash in the transcript released.
The president is now almost certain to face impeachment proceedings, which could ultimately see him removed from office.
At least 165 of the 235 ‘House’ Democrats in the House of Representatives – the lower house of the US Congress – are now said to support impeachment, with 218 supporters needed for proceedings to begin.
Evidence would then be presented to the upper half of US Congress – the Senate – where senators would act like jurors to decide whether or not Trump is guilty of the offenses he stands accused of.
If more than two thirds of the United States’ 100 senators agree the president is guilty, they can vote to remove him from office and install Vice President Mike Pence in his place.
Unlike the House of Representatives, which has a Democrat majority, the Senate is comprised mainly of Republican senators who belong to the same party as Trump.
That could potentially hinder the chances of him being ousted from office.
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