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Ukraine rejects reports of Trump coercing Zelensky during phone call

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Reports say President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden ’s son.

Ukraine has denied reports that US President Donald Trump repeatedly pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky to probe top Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son. 

News outlets reported last week that Trump urged Zelensky about eight times to work with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper the US president's potential 2020 opponent. 

Biden remains the frontrunner in the camp of Democrats seeking to challenge Republican Trump in the presidential election.

In an interview with local media on Saturday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko insisted that his country was independent and that Kiev would never take sides with either party in US politics.

Addressing a July phone conversation between Trump and Zelensky, the Ukrainian minister said there was no coercion and the conversation was friendly.

"I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure," Prystaiko added. "This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers."

He then thanked the US for giving aid to Ukraine.

The interactions between Trump, Giuliani and Ukraine have come under scrutiny in recent days in the wake of a whistleblower complaint that a person familiar with the matter said involves the president’s communications with a foreign leader.

The complaint, which the Washington Post reported centers on Ukraine, has prompted a new standoff between Congress and the executive branch.

US lawmakers are investigating any connection between the review of US foreign aid to Ukraine and Trump's efforts to pressure Kiev to look into Biden.

Biden on Saturday called for the White House to release the transcript of the US president’s call with Zelensky.

"This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power. To get on the phone with a foreign leader who is looking for help from the United States and ask about me and imply things … this is
outrageous," a visibly angry Biden said.

"Trump is using this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum and is using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me," Biden said. 

The news reports about the Zelensky phone call have intensified demands by Democratic lawmakers for the House of Representatives to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump.

Trump on Saturday dismissed the Ukraine allegations as another witch-hunt attempting to smear his already tarnished reputation and damage his popularity as the Americans get closer to the 2020 presidential election.

He slammed "Fake News" for their alleged attempts to frame him in the Ukraine scandal. Trump insisted that the Ukraine scandal was linked to Biden, not to him.

Giuliani has suggested Biden sought to pressure Ukraine in a corruption case involving a gas company for which his son was a director. A Ukrainian official this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son Hunter.

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