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Trump faces new turmoil over whistleblower complaint

Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump appeared on the brink of a new scandal Friday over a whistleblower's complaint that reportedly involves Ukraine and accuses Trump of making an improper promise to a foreign leader over the summer.

The controversy has refocused attention on Trump's attempts to undercut former Vice President Joe Biden, who is leading polls for next year's Democratic presidential nomination, by urging Ukrainian officials to investigate son Hunter Biden's business dealings there for possible corruption.

Trump tried to dismiss mounting concerns by calling the complaint "just another political hack job" and describing the whistleblower as "a partisan person" despite admitting he doesn't know who it is. He insisted his conversations with world leaders are "always appropriate."

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, where he was meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Trump refused to say whether he mentioned Biden in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying "it doesn't matter" what they discussed.

But Trump, who is scheduled to meet with Zelensky on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, said that "somebody ought to look into Joe Biden," though he complained no one would "because he's a Democrat."

The Wall Street Journal reported that during their phone call, Trump had repeatedly urged Zelensky to help investigate Biden's son Hunter. The Washington Post and The New York Times had previously reported that the whistleblower complaint involves Ukraine and Trump's communications with a foreign leader, but much of the situation remains murky because the whistleblower's identity and the specifics of the complaint remain under wraps.

 

The former vice president has denied any wrongdoing.

"Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to (Trump's) assertions," Biden said after a campaign event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I have no comment, except the president should start to be president."

The whistleblower complaint was filed on Aug. 12 with the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who notified the House Intelligence Committee on Sept. 9 because he considered the complaint "urgent" and "credible."

Atkinson, a former federal prosecutor who was appointed to his current position by Trump, stressed the urgency of the matter in a second letter on Sept. 17, saying it "relates to one of the most significant and important of the (director of national intelligence's) responsibilities to the American people."

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