Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, in coordination with US Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to a summary of a July telephone call released by the Trump administration on Wednesday.
Moments after the whistle-blower report was made public, the committee began a hearing.
Trump calls inquiry a ‘joke’
Trump on Wednesday dismissed as a “joke” the grounds laid out for the impeachment inquiry into him, as Democrats stood firm in accusing the US president of a “mafia-style shakedown” of his Ukrainian counterpart. Trump denied claims he abused his office by repeatedly urging Zelensky to probe his rival Joe Biden — as confirmed in a call transcript released by the White House.
The next explosive episode in the rapidly unfolding impeachment drama is set for Thursday, when acting director of national intelligence Joseph McGuire testifies on Capitol Hill.
"They are getting hit hard on this witch hunt because when they look at the information, it's a joke," said the president, who struck an uncharacteristically subdued tone at his first news conference since Democrats launched an official impeachment inquiry.