It was a warm and friendly conversation, says Trump
US President Donald Trump is in the centre of a raging controversy — this time involving Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The controversy revolves around a phone conversation Trump had with Zelensky on 25 July this year.
There are two sets of charges levelled against Trump. First, during the phone call Trump had allegedly asked Zelensky to investigate the Ukrainian business dealings of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Joe Biden was the vice-president during the Barack Obama administration and is currently a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Trump also urged Zelensky to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
The second allegation is that Trump leveraged US military aid to Ukraine to get what he wants from Zelensky. Trump allegedly withheld the aid until last week.
Speaking to the media ahead of his joint rally with Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday, Trump acknowledged the phone conversation with Zelensky. “There was no quid pro quo. It was a warm and friendly conversation,” he said.
Trump added that his conversation with Zelensky was about “the fact that we don’t want our people, like (former) vice-president Biden and his son (adding) to the corruption already in the Ukraine”.
The phone conversation became public after a whistleblower from the US intelligence community revealed the details to Pentagon.
Fresh calls for impeachment
These fresh allegations have led to renewed calls for Trump’s impeachment by Democratic legislators. These legislators are also demanding the Pentagon to release the details of the complaint made by the whistleblower.
The Democrats have, however, been divided over whether or not to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said at a campaign rally, “It is time to call out this illegal behaviour and start impeachment proceedings right now.”
Some leaders such as Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, was initially opposed to the impeachment proceedings, but he seemed to be changing his stance. Schiff said, “This seems different in kind. We may have crossed the Rubicon.”
Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House and a Democrat, has the final say on whether to begin the impeachment proceedings, and she continues to oppose it.
According to analysts, Pelosi fears alienating the Centrist voters if she starts the impeachment proceedings, which are most likely to be a failure.
Meanwhile, other Democratic candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are targeting the centrist-party leadership over the impeachment question.
“At this point, the bigger national scandal isn’t the president’s lawbreaking behaviour — it is the Democratic party’s refusal to impeach him for it,” said Cortez.