Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says the whistleblower complaint relating to a July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds similarities to the Russia collusion story.
“I think what this ultimately amounts to is, [Joe] Biden is flailing in the polls, this looks like some type of political operation. Doesn’t it feel like the Russia hoax all over again? It’s like the Ukrainian hoax,” Nunes told “Fox and Friends” on Sept. 23.
Trump has told reporters that his call with Zelensky, who was elected in April, was largely congratulatory and included discussion of a number of subjects, including corruption. Trump said he told the Ukrainian leader that he doesn’t want people such as former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden contributing to corruption in Ukraine.
“The new president is saying that he’s going to be able to rid the country of corruption, and I said that would be a great thing. We had a great conversation,” Trump said.
Hunter Biden’s business links in China and Ukraine have been highlighted repeatedly by Trump, who on Sept. 20 urged the media to look into Joe Biden’s remarks last year about how he pressured the Ukrainian government into firing the prosecutor who was investigating Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian company for which Hunter Biden served as a board member.
“The very thing they are accusing President Trump of doing, Biden did and admitted that he did, and I just go back to what is this all about. This is a whistleblower … that supposedly wants to remain secret, yet all his or her secrets are spilling out in the pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News,” Nunes said, in challenging the credibility of the whistleblower and his or her connection to certain news organizations.
The Intelligence Community’s inspector general met with the Intelligence Committee last week, said Nunes, who indicated that information from the whistleblower’s statement hasn’t yet been verified by Congress.
“We have no idea, this could maybe not even be about Ukraine. We have seen absolutely nothing, we got briefed last week from the ICIG [who] came and met with us [and] didn’t tell us any information. We are supposed to meet with this week with the acting DNI, maybe we will get more information,” Nunes said.
The president wrote on Twitter on Sept. 22: “Breaking News: The Ukrainian Government just said they weren’t pressured at all during the ‘nice’ call. Sleepy Joe Biden, on the other hand, forced a tough prosecutor out from investigating his son’s company by threat of not giving big dollars to Ukraine. That’s the real story!”
While the Democratic presidential candidate told reporters in Iowa on Sept. 21 that he didn’t speak to his son about his business dealings in Ukraine, Hunter Biden told The New Yorker earlier this year that he did discuss Burisma with his father.
Joe Biden said Congress should investigate the call between Trump and Zelensky, suggesting, without evidence, that Trump had “intimidated” Zelensky.
“Why is he on the phone trying to intimidate a foreign leader?” Biden said. “Depending on what the House finds, he could be impeached, but I’m not making that judgment right now. The House should investigate it.”
Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, had brought attention to Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine in May. Giuliani canceled a trip to Ukraine at the time in part to avoid the perception that he might have been going to dig up dirt on the president’s potential election challenger.
Giuliani again defended his handling of the matter in an appearance on Fox News aired on Sept. 22.
“What they’re trying to say is I went there for a political mission to kind of get Joe Biden in trouble. Ridiculous. I went there as a lawyer defending his client,” Giuliani said.
Epoch Times reporter Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.