In a speech at a GOP rally in Mississippi on Friday, US President Donald Trump targeted former Vice President and 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, sarcastically saying that the only way to defend him is to turn to Ukraine.
“Let's see, I've got a guy named Sleepy Joe Biden. How do I beat this guy? Gee, I guess there's only one way. Let's call up Ukraine for help,” Trump said.
Referring to allegations that Biden threatened to withhold $1bn of aid to Ukraine so as to protect his son Hunter's business dealings there, Trump said that he was "impressed" with Biden's alleged behaviour, saying, “I didn't think he had the energy, the brain power.”
“Well, it turns out... he doesn't. By the way, he's dropping like a rock,” he added seconds later.
Dwelling on allegations of withholding military aid to Ukraine in return for a politically motivated investigation, Trump underscored said he would not do so, especially during a telephone call.
“Now I'm an honest person anyway, but do you think when I'm making a call to a newly elected president of a country that I would say something improper when I know so many people are listening on the line?" he said.
The remarks come a few days after Trump signalled his readiness to read a transcript of his phone call with Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky aloud to Americans so that they can see his point amid the ongoing impeachment proceedings against him.
“This is over a phone call that is a good call. At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it. When you read it, it’s a straight call,” Trump told The Washington Examiner newspaper.
He insisted “everybody knows” that he did “nothing wrong,” adding that charges against him were nothing compared with those lodged against the three other US presidents that have faced impeachment, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Andrew Johnson.
Impeachment Probe Against Trump
The interview followed the House of Representatives approving a resolution to proceed with an impeachment inquiry against Trump.
The process was launched by Democrats on 24 September over a whistleblower complaint that claimed Trump might have abused his power by pressuring Ukrainian President Zelensky during the 25 July phone call to investigate potential corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Trump released the transcript of the call and slammed the impeachment inquiry as a ‘hoax’ and another political witch hunt aimed at reversing the result of the 2016 US presidential election.