Joe Biden hit back Saturday after being swept up in President Donald Trump’s latest national controversy, providing an early look at how he’ll respond to Trump’s attacks.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate a company with ties to Biden’s son Hunter. Trump’s request seemed designed to elicit damaging information about a political rival ahead of the 2020 election.
Biden, the top-polling 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who beats Trump in head-to-head matchups in battleground states and nationwide, said Saturday that if the president did that, it’s only because “he knows I’ll beat him like a drum.”
Biden also challenged Trump to release a transcript of his phone call with the Ukrainian leader.
Biden found himself at the center of a massive political scandal that includes unfounded accusations spread by Trump and his allies that Biden used his influence as vice president to help his son with a business deal.
Trump and his allies reportedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to look into Biden’s efforts in 2016 to convince Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, who at the time was also investigating a natural gas company that employed Hunter.
Biden said he knew nothing of his son’s business deal and was acting on behalf of the United States, which saw the prosecutor as ineffective at stamping out corruption.
The Biden campaign sent a lengthy memo to reporters Saturday listing quotes from various news outlets, including the Kyiv Post in Ukraine, discrediting Trump’s attack.
The memo seems part of a larger Biden campaign effort to get ahead of the story and keep history from repeating itself — if Trump keeps peddling the story, it could dog his campaign just as Hillary Clinton’s emails dogged hers.
Biden, campaigning at the Iowa Steak Fry, wouldn’t say whether Trump deserves to be impeached over his alleged conversations with Zelensky, but said the House should investigate.
“This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power, to get on the phone with a foreign power who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me, if that’s what happened, that’s what appears to have happened,” Biden told reporters. “Trump’s doing this because he knows I will beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try and smear.”
Other Democratic presidential hopefuls also referenced the story in their Iowa remarks. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, referenced Trump’s alleged conversation with the Ukrainian president when she spoke to voters Saturday. “Just in the last 48 hours, yet again, we find that he is in cahoots with a foreign government to manipulate the outcome of this election for president of the United States,” Harris said.
Trump has neither confirmed nor denied that he spoke to Zelensky about Biden, saying only that his conversations with the foreign leader were appropriate and calling these latest allegations another witch hunt.
News of the call came to light after an intelligence official whistleblower shared with the intelligence agency’s inspector general that the official had heard the president make a promise to a foreign leader that wasn’t appropriate. Subsequent reporting has found that the call was with Ukraine and related to Trump’s desire to get dirt on his possible political opponent.
However, no one has seen the actual complaint filed by the whistleblower because Congress hasn’t been provided a copy.
Washington Post writer Holly Bailey contributed to this report.