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President Donald Trump offered Wednesday to release summaries of White House interactions with the Ukrainian government as his pressure on the nation to investigate the Biden family clouds his presidency.
The Trump administration earlier put out a summary of a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The memo showed the president urged his counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, in cooperation with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
In rambling remarks to reporters as he wrapped up three days at the United Nations General Assembly, Trump repeatedly called his July conversation with Zelensky "innocent." He said he would release details of his first call with Zelensky, which took place in April after the Ukrainian president was elected, "if it's important to you."
"You can have it any time you need it, and also Mike Pence's conversations, which were, I think, one or two of them. They were perfect. They were all perfect," Trump said. It is unclear with whom in the Ukrainian government Pence spoke.
His comments come after Democratic furor over his push to get a foreign government to investigate one of his chief rivals for the presidency in 2020 led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce an impeachment inquiry into the president. They have called it an abuse of power by a president who has repeatedly overreached his authority. Trump could face only the fourth serious presidential impeachment inquiry in U.S. history.
Democrats had also decried his administration's refusal to release a whistleblower complaint believed to be related to Trump and Ukraine. His administration eventually relented, delivering the complaint to congressional intelligence committees Wednesday.
The president said he "fully supports transparency" in dealing with the whistleblower complaint. But he aimed to turn the scrutiny on Democrats — claiming they were the ones trying to force foreign governments to investigate him.
Trump alleged that Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., "literally threatened" the Ukrainian president. Murphy's office responded to a request for comment on the president's accusation with the following statement:
"I stand by my belief that the President of the United States should never be allowed to use the Oval Office for personal gain, especially when it includes leveraging away the international credibility of the United States. In the meeting Republican Senator Ron Johnson and I had with President Zelensky three weeks ago, I made it clear to him that Ukraine should not become involved in the 2020 election and that his government should communicate with the State Department, not the president's campaign. I still believe this to be true."
During his freewheeling remarks, Trump repeatedly framed the impeachment inquiry as another unfair "hoax" or "witch hunt" designed to mask his achievements in office. He even claimed that Democrats timed the announcement of impeachment proceedings to trample on his time at the United Nations.
He said reporters who did not focus on his one-on-one meetings with world leaders this week "waste [their] time on nonsense."
The president peppered his response to the impeachment inquiry into remarks about topics ranging from his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. electoral college, recent House special elections in North Carolina and books written by Fox News personalities. His comments to reporters followed a bilateral meeting Wednesday with Zelensky, who said he did not feel "pushed" to investigate Biden.
Trump did not directly answer a question about why Americans should be comfortable with him urging a foreign government to investigate a political opponent.