(CBS News)- Former Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday that President Trump “could be impeached” depending on the results of a House investigation into whether Mr. Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter.
“I know Trump deserves to be investigated. He is violating every basic norm of a president,” Biden said in Iowa. “Depending on what the House finds [Trump] could be impeached.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to open an investigation into Hunter Biden in a July call with the Ukrainian president. This interaction with Zelensky may be the subject of a whistleblower report to the inspector general of the intelligence community that the Trump administration is refusing to provide to Congress.
Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, a wealthy associate of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian Ukrainian president who was forced into exile in 2014. Zlochevsky was subsequently investigated for corruption, and a new prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, took over the investigation in 2015, according to Politifact.
Speaking to reporters in Iowa on Saturday, Biden said that he had never spoken to his son about his business dealings in Ukraine. He accused Mr. Trump of “trying to intimidate a foreign leader” by asking Zelensky to investigate the younger Biden.
“Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum. And he’s using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” Biden said. He also said that Mr. Trump “crossed a line,” and called on the president to release the transcript of the July call with Zelensky.
For his part, Mr. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused the media of trying to create a conspiracy. He pointed out that Biden, while he was vice president, threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it ousted Shokin, which Ukraine agreed to do.
“The Fake News Media and their partner, 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, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine. Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster. The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter.
However, Shokin was perceived by the U.S. and its allies as not pursuing corruption cases aggressively enough, Politifact points out, and he was suspected of trying to protect pro-Russian interests. The case against Zlochevsky languished while Shokin was a prosecutor.
In a heated interview with CNN on Thursday, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, admitted that he asked Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son. However, Giuliani said he wasn’t ordered by Mr. Trump to investigate Biden and didn’t inform the president of his investigation until after the fact.