US President Donald Trump called the Ukranian leader to persuade him to launch an investigation into his Democratic rival, Joe Biden and his businessman son, according to a whistleblower complaint.
A July 25 call made by US President Donald Trump to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky added another episode to Trump’s political troubles, triggering the US Congress’ Democratic leadership to launch an impeachment inquiry.
A whistleblower, a CIA officer according to different sources, said that Trump used his executive authority to procure a favour targeting one of his Democratic rivals, Joe Biden, in the upcoming presidential elections.
“In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple US government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 US election,” the whistleblower wrote in his complaint.
“This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country [Ukraine] to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals,” he continued in his letter.
He also claimed that the White House tried to “lock down” call records.
In the face of approaching elections, Trump, a former TV show host, wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former comedian, to launch an investigation into former vice president Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, a businessman, who has been accused of using his father’s powerful position to curry favour in Ukraine and China.
Hunter Biden, given a seat on the board of a gas company based in Ukraine while his father was in office, was responsible for overseeing Ukrainian affairs.
The young Biden also became a board member of a Chinese-affiliated investment company, whose planned budget amounted to $1.5 billion, 12 days after both Bidens travelled to China in December 2013.
“When Biden’s son walks out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund and the biggest funds in the world can’t get money out of China and he’s there with one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two. I think that’s a horrible thing. I think it’s a horrible thing,” Trump said on Wednesday.
But in May, Ukraine’s chief prosecutor said that he could not find any evidence to back up accusations against either Joe or Hunter Biden.
White House officials were “deeply disturbed” about the nature of the president’s request from a foreign leader, according to the complaint letter.
US officials said that Trump did not want to meet with Zelensky unless the Ukranian leader “chose to act” in accordance with the president’s request.
The country’s acting national intelligence director, Joseph Maguire, also supported the whistleblower’s complaint saying that both “the whistleblower and the inspector general have acted in good faith throughout”.
“I have every reason to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law," Maguire said, during his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee.
More than 300 former US officials working for national security and foreign policy issues also released a joint statement saying that they found “profound national security concern” in the president’s Ukraine conduct, backing the impeachment inquiry.
The Ukraine episode is similar to the previous accusations of Trump’s opponents over his conduct with Russians before he became the president. The accusations later turned into an inquiry investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. In both cases, Trump stands accused of having connections with foreign officials to curry favour in elections.
In US history, only two presidents have been impeached - former president Andrew Johnson in 1868 and former president Bill Clinton, who was impeached, but not removed from office.
Former president Richard Nixon faced a powerful impeachment inquiry but decided to resign before it concluded.
During the Nixon impeachment inquiry, it was revealed that the former president conducted a scheme to secretly record conversations in the Democratic Party headquarters, Watergate. If the latest accusations against Trump are true, it means another US president tried to misuse executive authority to get a favourable political position.
In order to convict the president, the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the senate, which seems to be unlikely at the moment in the face of continuing Republican support to Trump.
The Republicans hold a majority in the US Senate.