Biden accuses Trump of 'abuse of power' over Ukraine call

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump accuses Biden of 'quid pro quo' hours after Mulvaney remarks Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense MORE on Saturday accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocratic senator rips Trump's 'let them fight' remarks: 'Enough is enough' Warren warns Facebook may help reelect Trump 'and profit off of it' Trump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' MORE of an “overwhelming abuse of power” over reports that he pressured Ukraine to open an investigation into the Democratic presidential candidate.

“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,” Biden told reporters on the campaign trail in Des Moines, Iowa. 

The broadside came after reports emerged Friday that Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a phone call in July to work with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTestimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe Democrats want Mulvaney to testify in Trump impeachment probe MORE, his personal attorney, to investigate Biden’s son.

Trump did not deny the reports, telling reporters, “It doesn’t matter what I discuss.”

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“But I will say this: Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful,” he added.

Trump and other Republicans have pointed to Biden’s efforts while he was vice president in 2016 to push Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch whose board members included Biden’s son Hunter. No evidence has emerged that Biden was acting to protect his son.

Biden’s frustration over the issue flared Saturday as he pointed at a reporter who asked if Biden had spoken with his son about his business dealings, saying he hadn’t.

“Everybody looked at this, and everybody who’s looked at it says there’s nothing there,” he said Saturday. 

Biden went on to call on the House to investigate the conversation, saying he would defer to Capitol Hill as to whether the conversation should prompt formal impeachment proceedings. 

“Depending on what the House finds, he could be impeached, but I’m not making that judgement right now. The House should investigate it,” he said. “This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power, to get on the phone with a foreign leader who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me and imply things, if that’s what happened. That appears to be what happened. This is outrageous.”

The conversation between Trump and Zelensky is just one facet of mounting scrutiny over a whistleblower complaint from someone within the intelligence community that reportedly details a “promise” the president made to a foreign leader. It was later reported that the whistleblower’s claims specifically centered around Ukraine.

Biden also panned Trump Friday evening as the scandal began to unfold, calling on the White House to release a transcript of the call with Zelensky. 

"Such clear-cut corruption damages and diminishes our institutions of government by making them tools of a personal political vendetta," Biden said. "At minimum, Donald Trump should immediately release the transcript of the call in question, so that the American people can judge for themselves, and direct the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to stop stonewalling and release the whistleblower notification to the Congress."

The burgeoning controversy has also further strained relations between the White House and Capitol Hill, with congressional Democrats urging the White House to release the complaint.

Joseph Maguire, the acting intelligence chief, will testify publicly before Congress next week over the complaint. Meanwhile, Trump is slated to meet with Zelensky on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week in New York, a senior administration official told reporters earlier Friday.