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Trump defends call with Ukraine president: ‘It’s very important to talk about corruption’


'If we deal with a country, we want honesty'

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump said Monday that "honesty" was his reason for discussing suspected corruption involving former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden's son Hunter Biden, and a Ukrainian national gas company that employed the latter on its board on a July phone call with the president of Ukraine.

What's the background?

Hunter Biden's relationship with Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma is at the center of a recent media firestorm resulting from a July phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which Trump reportedly urged Zelensky to look into a probe of the company and Hunter Biden.

At a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, Biden said that he — while still vice president — pressured then-Ukranain president Petro Poroshenko to fire then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, while Shokin was leading an investigation into the company by threatening to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.

Shokin was fired, though Shokin's replacement told The Hill earlier this year that some evidence in the Burisma case might interest U.S. authorities and that he would like to present that information to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

The recent controversy surrounding the phone call began last week with a complaint from a so-called whistleblower who reportedly did not have "direct knowledge" of Trump's conversation with Zelensky.

What did Trump say?

When asked about the specifics of his phone call, Trump explained Monday that "if we deal with a country we want honesty."

"We're supporting a country; we want to make sure that country is honest," Trump continued. "It's very important to talk about corruption. If you don't talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? One of the reasons the new president 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."

When asked about the recent controversy regarding a July phone call between him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the United Nations in New York City on Monday, President Trump said "we had a perfect call with the president of Ukraine; everybody knows it. It's just a Democrat witch hunt, here we go again."

Democrats "failed with Russia; they failed with recession; they failed with everything, and now they're bringing this up," Trump continued. "The one who's got the problem is Biden. Because you look at what Biden did: Biden did what they would like to have me do, except for one problem: I didn't do it."

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