WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Friday appeared to acknowledge a conversation with another world leader that prompted an U.S. intelligence official to file a formal complaint, but he tried to discredit the unnamed individual as "highly partisan."
The Washington Post and other media outlets have reported the intelligence community whistleblower's complaint stems from a telephone conversation Trump had over the summer with a senior Ukrainian official, most likely new President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Post first reported that the complaint had been filed because the intelligence official was concerned about a "promise" Trump made to that leader.
The intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, dubbed the matter one of great concern. The Trump-Zelensky call was made about two and a half weeks before the Aug. 12 complaint was filed; the conversation already was under investigation by House Democrats. That's because they want to know whether Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was trying to press Zelensky's government to investigate one of Trump's political opponents to help the president's 2020 reelection campaign.
Giuliani has not denied having such conversations, which are related to his contention that while Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden was vice president, he convinced the Ukrainian government to drop an investigation into a company linked to one of Biden's sons. Giuliani said on CNN Thursday night that there was nothing inappropriate about his conversations with Ukrainian officials.
He also said that if Trump, as president, had asked Zelensky to look into the company in question and Biden's son, such an ask is within the powers of the Office of the President. The next morning, the president defended himself on Twitter.
Trump suggested -- as he does almost daily -- that "Radical Left Democrats" and "Fake News Media" are somehow "partners" in a conspiracy targeting him and his presidency.
"They think I may have had a 'dicey' conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a 'highly partisan' whistleblowers statement," he tweeted.
The White House and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire are blocking release of the complaint to Congress. That is allowing Giuliani and Trump to try shaping a narrative about the individual and circumstances surrounding the call, which Trump said others were listening to.
"Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward," the president tweeted.
He claimed of the call that "there was nothing said wrong," describing his conversation with the comedian-turned-Ukrainian leader as "pitch perfect!"