Donald Trump accuses Democrats of launching 'Ukraine Witch Hunt'

Nick Allen
Donald Trump has accused Joe Biden over Ukraine - AFP

Donald Trump last night ramped up his accusations that Joe Biden demanded Ukraine fire a prosecutor investigating his son Hunter's business dealings.

The US president lashed out amid an escalating controversy sparked by a whistleblower's claim that Mr Trump himself had tried to pressure the Ukrainian leader to pursue an inquiry into Hunter Biden.

Ukraine is now at the centre of a complex scandal that threatens  to damage both the president and his potential Democrat opponent in 2020.

It stems from an internal complaint on Aug 12 by an unknown whistleblower in the US intelligence community.

The complaint centred on a July 25 telephone conversation between Mr Trump and Ukraine's newly elected president Volodymyr Zelensky.

Mr Trump was said to have repeatedly pressured Mr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine, where he was on the board of gas company. According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr Trump did so "about eight times".

Democrats have accused the president, and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, of trying to coerce Ukraine to pursue Hunter Biden in exchange for military assistance.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has accused Democrats of trying to distract from allegations he has been making against Joe Biden.

He claims that, in 2016, Mr Biden, then the vice-president, demanded that the Ukrainian government remove the prosecutor looking into the gas company Hunter Biden was associated with.

Joe Biden has said there is "not one scintilla of evidence" he or his son did anything wrong.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter: "The Democrat Party want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son...

"So they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine."

He added:"Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster."

Mr Trump said Democrats had "gone bust on every other of their Witch Hunt schemes" and were now attempting a "Ukraine Witch Hunt" against him. He claimed the whistleblower was "partisan".

Vadym Prystaiko, the Ukrainian foreign minister, backed Mr Trump.

He told Ukrainian television: "I know what the conversation [with Mr Zelensky] was about and I do not think there was any pressure [from Mr Trump]."

Mr Biden called for Mr Trump to release the transcript of the telephone call so "so that the American people can judge for themselves."