JOE Biden has said he believes Donald Trump committed an impeachable offence by pressuring the Ukrainian president to dig dirt on him and his son.
It was the furthest he has gone on the subject of Trump’s impeachment – which most of the other leading Democratic presidential contenders have already called for.
Joe Biden said it is ‘hard to avoid the conclusion’ Trump committed an impeachable offence[/caption]
The former Vice President was speaking to US TV host Jimmy Kimmel[/caption]
Trump has denied any a wrongdoing over the affair and has labelled moves to oust him from the White House as a “joke.”
However, former US Vice President Biden said he believes Trump’s actions were “such a blatant abuse of power that I don’t think it can stand.”
TV host Jimmy Kimmel had asked Biden if he thought his political rival had actually committed an impeachable offence.
“Based on the material they acknowledged today, it seems to me it’s awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offence. And a violation of constitutional responsibility,” Biden said.
When Kimmel asked how the matter ranks on the “outlandish scale” of American politics, Biden then replied: “18 out of 10.”
However, despite his strong words, Biden said he would remain focused on the 2020 election, rather than any impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill.
His comments came the day the White House released a transcript of the July 25 call between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Donald Trump is currently facing an impeachment inquiry which threatens to oust him[/caption]
Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shake hands during a meeting in New York[/caption]
In it Trump repeatedly pressed Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
It has now been claimed investigating Biden was understood to be a precondition to Trump’s phone call with his Ukranian counterpart, according to an adviser to Zelensky.
Ukrainian officials understood any correspondence between the two presidents hinged on a discussion about digging up dirt on Trump’s rival, according to Serhiy Leshchenko.
The anti-corruption expert told ABC News “It was clear that Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case.”
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, saying there was “no pressure whatsoever” in his phone call with Zelensky.
He defended the “very nice call” at a news conference on Wednesday and repeatedly attacked Democrats and the “dishonest” media, who he claims are obsessed over the “witch hunt”.
“Impeachment for that?” Trump asked when grilled about his call with Zelensky.
Trump dismissed the probe, which threatens to oust him, as a “joke” in a press conference at a UN General Assembly meeting.
He said he decided to release a summary of the call because of “horrible things” being reported.
“I don’t like the precedent,” Trump said. “I don’t like it where you’re dealing with heads of state and to think that their call is going to be released.”
The transcript has revealed that Trump pressed Ukraine’s leader to “look into” Democratic rival Joe Biden as well as his grievances from the 2016 election.
In the July call, Trump repeatedly asked Zelenskiy to work with Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
At one point in the conversation, Trump said: “I would like for you to do us a favour.”
Trump made the request shortly after discussing the US possibly giving nearly $400 million in military aid to help the country battle Russian-backed separatists.
That aid had widespread support until the Trump administration put the brakes on it this summer.
The conversation has raised questions about whether Trump was using the aid as leverage to get help on the Biden issue.
The president’s words will be probed in the fourth impeachment investigation of an American president in the nation’s history.
But in his press conference, Trump reiterated his claim he did not pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden.
“No push, no pressure, no nothing,” Trump said.
Describing his phone calls with the leader, Trump said: “They were all perfect.”
“And the witch hunt continues. They’re getting hit hard on this witch hunt.
“Because when they look at the information, it’s a joke. “Impeachment for that?
“When you have a wonderful meeting or a wonderful phone conversation?”
Trump also offered to release a transcript of his first phone conversation with the leader, saying that was also ‘beautiful”.
Trump has been accused of urging the president of Ukraine to probe the business activities of Joe Biden’s son and threatening to withhold aid.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company while his father was vice president.
Reports previously claimed Biden, while vice president, threatened to withhold $1billion in American loan guarantees in 2016 if the nation’s leaders did not fire Ukraine’s top prosecutor.
At the time the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was probing the company where Hunter was a board member.
However, Ukraine’s current prosecutor, Yuriy Lutsenko, said in May he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son.
What is impeachment and how does it work?
IMPEACHMENT is a formal charge of serious wrongdoing against a holder of public office in the United States.
It is one of the few ways a sitting president can be kicked out of the White House before an election.
The US Constitution states a president “shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanours”.
The “sole power of impeachment” is held by the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress.
A simple majority is required – i.e. more than half of Representatives must vote to impeach the president.
Then the case would be tried by the Senate, the upper chamber of Congress, where a two-thirds majority is needed.
While the Senate is still controlled by the Republicans, with 53 of the 100 seats, the Democrats have control of the House of Representatives, with 235 of the 435 seats.
This means that it’s possible for the House of Representatives to pass a vote to impeach the president.
However, a two-thirds majority of 67 Senators voting to impeach Trump would still be needed in the Senate when it is tried.
The memo summarising Trump’s call with the Ukraine leader shows the president’s lingering fixation on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Trump flippantly refers to the ex-FBI director as a “man named Robert Mueller” and says he turned in “a very poor performance.”
The memo also shows that the president made reference to the private cybersecurity firm that investigated Russia’s hack of the Democratic National Committee servers during the 2016 election.
Trump suggests that Ukraine may be in the possession of the email server, though it’s unclear what he’s referring to.
Trump also says he’d like to have his attorney general “call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.”
The White House released the memo on Wednesday.
BOMBSHELL CALL Part of the declassified transcript of Trump's call with Ukraine's president
The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There- are a lot. of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.
President Zelenskyy: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.
The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General.
Joe Biden said Trump has not only has compromised national security but mounted “a direct attack on the independence” of the Justice Department.
The former vice president made his statement Wednesday in response to the White House releasing a rough transcript of a conversation between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The document shows Trump asking Zelenskiy to “do us a favor” by investigating Biden and his son, Hunter.
Biden says Trump “put personal politics” above U.S. national security interests by soliciting a foreign leader’s help in damaging one of the U.S. president’s domestic political rivals.
Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
Some Democrats in Congress have long wanted to kick-start the constitutional process to oust Trump, despite the slim odds of success. Previous bids have failed.
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Biden had earlier been accused of threatening to withhold aid funding to Ukraine over a probe into a gas company that his son worked for[/caption]
Hunter Biden, 49, worked for a Ukrainian natural gas company[/caption]
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