Trump dismisses ‘ridiculous story’ about alleged promise to foreign leader

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Trump dismisses ‘ridiculous story’ about alleged promise to foreign leader

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President Donald Trump has dismissed a whistleblower allegation that he made a promise to a foreign leader – believed to be Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky – calling it a "ridiculous story".

He said his talks with leaders were always "totally appropriate".

Reports say Mr Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son – who was on a Ukrainian gas company board – in return for more US military support.

Mr Biden is frontrunner to be the Democrat's 2020 presidential candidate.

In its report on the complaint by the whistleblower, the Washington Post said the intelligence official had found Mr Trump's comment to the foreign leader "so troubling" that they went to the department's inspector general.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, quoted sources as saying Mr Trump had urged Mr Zelensky about eight times to work with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani on an investigation into Mr Biden's son, but had not offered anything in return.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that reports of the complaint raised "grave, urgent concerns" for US national security.

Mr Trump and Mr Zelensky spoke by phone on 25 July. The whistleblower's complaint is dated 12 August.

What did Trump say?

He described the complaint as "just another political hack job".

"It's a ridiculous story. It's a partisan whistleblower. He shouldn't even have information. I've had conversations with many leaders. They're always appropriate," he said, speaking alongside Australia's leader Scott Morrison in the White House.

He also called for Mr Biden's finances to be scrutinised.

"It doesn't matter what I discussed, someone ought to look into Joe Biden's billions of dollars and you wouldn't look into that because he's a Democrat," he told reporters.

On Thursday, Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that he knew all his phone calls to foreign leaders were listened to by US agencies.

Ukraine says Mr Trump and Mr Zelensky will meet next week in New York during the UN General Assembly.

What do we know about the complaint?

Democrats are trying to get the complaint turned over to Congress, with many details still unknown.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson said the complaint consists of a "serious or flagrant problem, abuse or violation of the law" that involves classified information, a letter to lawmakers revealed.

The acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, has so far refused to share any details of the complaint with lawmakers, leading to an outcry among Democrats.

Under US law, if the complaint is considered to be of "urgent concern", and if the inspector general considers the complaint to be "credible", then the department head is expected to share the information with Congress within seven days.

What other Ukraine allegations are there?

Earlier this month, before the whistleblower's complaint came to light, House Democrats launched an investigation into Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani's interactions with Ukraine.

Three Democratic panel heads – Eliot Engel (foreign affairs), Adam Schiff (intelligence) and Elijah Cummings (oversight) – said Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani had attempted "to manipulate the Ukrainian justice system to benefit the president's re-election campaign and target a possible political opponent".

They allege that Mr Trump and Mr Giuliani tried to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating Joe and Hunter Biden.

Is Ukraine's leader being punished?

Analysis by Jonah Fisher, BBC Kiev correspondent

No-one in Ukraine's presidential administration wants to talk about the 25 July phone call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelensky, or respond to the claims that Mr Trump asked Ukraine to investigate his possible opponent in 2020 in return for continued US military support. There are a few circumstantial clues.

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