NEW YORK, Sept. 24 - President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he authorized the release of a transcript of a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the center of a controversy over whether he pressured Kyiv to investigate Joe Biden, USA Today reported.
"I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelenskiy of Ukraine," Trump said in a tweet.
The president confirmed reports Tuesday that he withheld aid money from Ukraine days before his phone call with Zelenskiy in July, but he denied he used the money as leverage to dig up dirt on Biden, the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate.
He insisted that he delayed the congressionally approved money because he wanted other European countries to contribute more to Ukraine. The president had said earlier that he withheld the funds over concerns about corruption.
A whistleblower in the intelligence community called attention to conversations between Trump and a foreign leader. Reports surfaced over the weekend that Trump asked Zelenskiy to look into allegations about the Biden family, specifically the former vice president's son Hunter.
Trump later tweeted that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo received permission from Ukraine's government to publish the transcript. Trump claimed Ukraine officials "don't know either what the big deal is."
The president has claimed for several days that the transcript of the call would clear up the controversy and that he hesitated in releasing it only because of the precedent it sets for releasing the details of calls with foreign leaders.
Trump and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani have pushed claims for months that Biden as vice president sought the ouster in 2016 of Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general Viktor Shokin to stop an investigation into Burisma Group, a Ukrainian energy company where his son Hunter served on the board of directors.
The push by the vice president came alongside calls for Ukraine to get rid of Shokin from European diplomats and the U.S. State Department because international leaders said Shokin did too little to fight corruption in the Eastern European country. (us/ez)