Ukraine President: 'No Blackmail' from Trump During Phone Call
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says no bribe, blackmail, or quid pro quo
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has told reporters that President Donald Trump did not attempt to bribe or blackmail him or push a quid pro quo on the Ukrainian government as Democrats claim.
Speaking with media during an event inside a Kiev food market, Zelensky said he believes the transcript released by the White House is accurate.
The Ukrainian leader says he knew the U.S. had withheld $400 million in military aid over concerns about corruption and concern for American "taxpayer money."
He said, however, that the issue was never linked to Trump's desire for an investigation to be relaunched into an energy company with ties to former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
"There was no blackmail," Zelensky said.
"They blocked this money and nobody asked us [for] anything,"
According to Fox News, a "whistleblower" claims that Trump implied in the July 25 phone call that restoration of the aid would be conditioned on Ukraine reopening a probe of Burisma Holdings and the Bidens' involvement in the matter has prompted Democrats in the House to launch an impeachment inquiry.
On Tuesday, Fox News contributor John Solomon reported that the Ukrainian government had already ordered a reopening of the probe of Burisma Holdings months before the two presidents spoke by phone.
The military aid was later released to Ukraine, and President Trump has denied the whistleblower's claims.
The White House has also refused to cooperate with what it claims is an unconstitutional impeachment effort by House Democrats.
The White House sent an eight-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday that read: "President Trump and his administration reject your baseless, unconstitutional efforts to overturn the democratic process.
"Your unprecedented actions have left the president with no choice.
"In order to fulfill his duties to the American people, the Constitution, the Executive Branch, and all future occupants of the Office of the Presidency, President Trump and his administration cannot participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry under these circumstances."
Zelensky, a 41-year-old former actor, comedian, and screenwriter elected in May, has sought to reverse his country's image as a hotbed of corruption.
He told reporters Thursday that the main purpose of his conversation with Trump was to set up a meeting with the American president and show reform measures were in place in Ukraine.
"We just wanted to establish relations," he said, adding at one point, "the story with Burisma has nothing to do with weapons."
Trump and other Biden critics question how Hunter Biden, who reportedly knew little about the energy business and the country, ended up on Burisma’s board while his father was vice president and spearheaded Ukraine relations under President Barack Obama.
The elder Biden was later recorded bragging about how he pressured Ukraine to oust a prosecutor who had been looking into the company's founder, though Biden allies say this intervention was driven by corruption concerns.
It is unclear how much money Hunter Biden made while serving on the board of the firm, but reports have estimated he made up to $1 million per year.