Trump suggests he discussed Biden with Ukraine's president, goes on offensive

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment MORE on Sunday suggested that he discussed Joe BidenJoe BidenFive landmark moments of testimony to Congress Democrats sharpen their message on impeachment Biden: 'I'm more of a Democrat from my shoe sole to my ears' than anyone else running MORE during a call with his Ukrainian counterpart and went on the offensive against the Democratic presidential candidate and the whistleblower who reportedly raised concerns about the president's interaction with the foreign leader.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump again defended his conduct during the call with Ukraine. He insisted there was no quid pro quo involved in the talks with the Ukrainian president, calling it a "perfect conversation."

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Instead, Trump sought to shift the focus to the former vice president and the whistleblower, suggesting they had been the ones in the wrong.

Trump described the nature of his July 25 talk with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as "largely congratulatory" and focused on corruption before suggesting the Bidens were a point of discussion.

"It was largely the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son [contributing] to the corruption already in the Ukraine," Trump said as he left for an event in Texas.

"I'm not looking to hurt Biden ... but he said a very bad thing. He said a very foolish thing," Trump added.

He went on to criticize the whistleblower who set off the controversy, saying the official had caused a "false alarm."

Trump has given mixed messages about the whistleblower in recent days. The president has accused the whistleblower of being "partisan" while admitting he does not know their identity, and he claimed he's aware his calls with foreign leaders are heavily "populated" while asserting Sunday that he should be able to speak freely without others listening in.

"This whistleblower or whoever it was — because it sounds like it's not a whistleblower — you can't have that happen to a president of the United States," Trump said. "The conversation, by the way, was absolutely perfect. It was a beautiful, warm, nice conversation."

Multiple outlets reported Friday that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president during a July call to investigate Biden's son Hunter Biden. 

Those reports came after The Washington Post wrote last week that a whistleblower in the intelligence community filed a complaint about Trump's interaction with a foreign leader. The interaction was later said to involve Ukraine.

Ukraine's foreign minister on Saturday said he would not characterize Trump's interaction as pressuring the country's president.

Trump has not denied that he urged Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, who is consistently beating the president in polls of hypothetical 2020 match-ups. Instead, Trump has questioned why the media is not paying more attention to the Democratic front-runner's actions.

Joe Biden has dismissed any insinuation of improper behavior involving his son and on Saturday accused Trump of abusing his office to "smear" him.

"Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” the former vice president told reporters on the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa.

Hunter Biden worked with a natural gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. His father pushed in 2016 for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been accused of overlooking corruption in his own office.
 
While there’s no indication Joe Biden was acting with his son’s interests in mind and the former vice president has denied doing so, Trump’s allies, including attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTop diplomat said request for specific probes in Ukraine was 'contrary' to US policy Press: Another billionaire need not apply Condoleezza Rice says reports of an unofficial US policy in Ukraine are 'deeply troubling' MORE, have claimed that Hunter Biden should be further investigated in Ukraine.

Giuliani acknowledged in a CNN interview last Thursday night that he had asked Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden.

Trump said Sunday that he'd have "no problem" with Giuliani speaking to Congress about his interactions with Ukraine.

As Trump's flight to Texas took off, the president tweeted skeptically about Hunter Biden's knowledge of the energy industry.

This report was last updated on Sept. 23 at 5:30 a.m.