Politico

Mike Pompeo puts onus in Ukraine squabble on Biden

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday he hasn’t seen the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, but if former Vice President Joe Biden behaved inappropriately then “we need to know.”

Following reports that President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter Biden — which led to a whistleblower complaint and stalled congressional review — Pompeo joined many Trump allies in pivoting the conversation to discrediting the Democratic 2020 front-runner.

At the center of the controversy is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which has spiked demands from Democratic lawmakers for investigations and impeachment proceedings. Those seeking an investigation want to know if the president made U.S. aid contingent on Ukraine investigating Trump’s political opponent.

Biden has been attacked by those who say that while he was vice president, he threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid from Ukraine and called for the firing of a state prosecutor looking into a gas company where Hunter Biden held a board position. Trump himself has doubled down on these claims against Biden.

“If Vice President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that,” Pompeo said on ABC‘s “This Week.“

He added, “America cannot have our elections interfered with … If there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice President Biden, we need to know.”

Trump tweeted Saturday that the call was “perfectly fine and routine.” But critics of the administration, including Biden, have labeled Trump’s actions as “an overwhelming abuse of power” and “betrayal of our nation.”

Pompeo reiterated Sunday that the U.S. wants a “good relationship” with Ukraine. He pointed to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko’s statement that there was no pressure applied in the conversation between the world leaders. In response to a question about releasing the phone call transcript, Pompeo deferred to the White House.

“We don’t release transcripts very often,” he said Sunday. “Those are private conversations between world leaders and it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so except in — in the most extreme circumstances.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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