President Donald Trump asked Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky "about eight times" in a July telephone call to work with personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden's son, according to news reports Friday.
"He told him that he should work with [Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” whether allegations were true or not, The Wall Street Journal quoted someone "familiar with the matter" as saying.
However, Trump did not "mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the call," the person said, nor did the individual believe that the president offered Zelensky "any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation."
President Trump told reporters Friday that he speaks with many world leaders in defending himself against an intelligence whistleblower's complaint that reportedly involved a call to the Ukranian president.
The government's intelligence watchdog has deemed the complaint "serious" and "urgent," but acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has not allowed it to be seen by Congress.
"I have conversations with many leaders," Trump said in the Oval Office. "It's always appropriate. Always appropriate.
"At the highest level always appropriate," he added. "And anything I do, I fight for this country."
He called the whistleblower, who has not been publicly identified, "partisan" and refused to discuss the contents of what he talked about with the Ukranian leader.
The president also would not say whether he asked for a Biden investigation, telling reporters, "It doesn’t matter what I discussed."
Giuliani told CNN Thursday that he met with top Ukrainian officials in June and August about a possible investigation.
The former New York City mayor has suggested that Biden, as vice president, worked to shield Hunter Biden in a probe of a Ukrainian gas company to which he had ties.
A Ukrainian official said earlier this year that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son, the Journal reports.
The newspaper reported Friday that after the July call between the presidents, the Ukrainian government said Trump had congratulated Zelensky, who had just been elected, and expressed hope that "his government would push ahead with investigations and corruption probes that had stymied relations between the two countries."
The White House declined to comment, the Journal reported, while the Biden campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
A Biden campaign spokesman last week slammed Giuliani's efforts to pressure Ukraine, saying, "This is beneath us as Americans."
Trump is scheduled to meet with Zelensky for the first time next week during the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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