Biden: Congress should impeach Trump if he doesn't comply with Ukraine investigations

Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech Tuesday that President Trump should face impeachment if he does not comply with congressional inquiries into his communications with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The president should stop stonewalling this investigation and all the other investigations into his alleged wrongdoing,” Biden said, speaking in a somber tone of voice in front of several American flags. “Using its full constitutional authority, the Congress in my view should demand the information it has a legal right to receive. If the president does not comply with such a request from the Congress, if he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment. That would be a tragedy.”

Biden’s remarks fell short of calling for Congress to immediately begin impeachment proceedings, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was preparing to announce just that. In a news conference scheduled just hours after Biden’s, she reportedly planned to say that Democrats would begin a formal impeachment inquiry.

Biden, however, made clear that he would back House Democrats if they began impeachment proceedings.

“We have a president who believes there is no limit to his power,” Biden said. “A president who believes he can do anything and get away with it. We have a president who believes he is above the law.”

Biden characterized Trump’s conversations with Zelensky as “pursuing the leader of another nation to investigate a political opponent to help win an election” and said it “is not the conduct of an American president.”

Joe Biden (Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump has acknowledged, after previously denying, that he urged Zelensky to investigate whether Biden, as vice president, intervened with a previous Ukrainian government to help his son Hunter, who had business interests in the country. Trump insists there was nothing illegal about his effort to combat what he called “corruption,” and has denied press reports that his withholding of military aid to the country around the same time was related to his request.

Trump said he would release on Wednesday a full transcript of his July 25 conversation with the Ukrainian leader.

But the administration has refused to release a report from a whistleblower in the intelligence community who raised alarms about Trump’s communications with Zelensky. The law says Congress is entitled to see the report.

“Denying Congress the information which it is constitutionally entitled to and obstructing its efforts to investigate actions is not the conduct of an American president. It’s an abuse of power. It undermines our national security. It violates his oath of office,” Biden said.

Donald Trump at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP)

Asked at the United Nations General Assembly about the timing of his decision to withhold military aid to Ukraine, Trump told reporters that “there was no quid pro quo. There was no pressure applied, nothing.”

Democrats have made clear that the law requires that they be shown the whistleblower’s complaint.

On Tuesday afternoon, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced that the whistleblower is seeking to share his or her story with Congress.

For months, Trump has claimed that Biden used his influence to press for firing Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2015 and 2016, Viktor Shokin, who had opened an investigation into the natural gas company Bursima Holdings. Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, served on the board of the company. Trump alleges that those connections are proof of wrongdoing, but a Ukrainian report released on May 16 found “no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. diplomatic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son.”

Throughout the summer, Biden has been ahead of Trump in virtually all polls of hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race.

“I can take the political attacks. They’ll come and they’ll go, and in time they’ll soon be forgotten,” Biden said. “But if we allow a president to get away with shredding the United States Constitution, that will last forever.”

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