Ukrainian president says 'no blackmail' in infamous July phone call with Trump

  • Ukrainian president says 'no blackmail' in infamous July phone call with Trump

Ukrainian president says 'no blackmail' in infamous July phone call with Trump

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Thursday (Oct 10) he would be ready to open a probe into any Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US presidential election but denied that US President Donald Trump had tried to blackmail him.

According to ABC News, Zelensky reiterated there was "no blackmail" during his phone call with President Trump, which formed the basis of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry.

Trump later said the military aid was frozen because of concerns about corruption in Ukraine, but the move prompted congressional outcry and the money was released in September.

"Our calls had nothing to do with weapons or the story with Burisma", he added, referring to the gas company where Mr Biden's son Hunter sat on the board.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Kiev on Thursday, Mr Zelensky said of his 25 July call with Mr Trump: "There was no blackmail".

Mr Zelensky also said he does not believe US-Ukraine relations will be affected by the inquiry into the call.

He also said he will not publish the Ukrainian transcript of the July phone call.

However, their contemporaneous alarm over Trump's conduct on the call would undermine the relevance of questioning the 18-day gap between the call and the whistleblower complaint by the president's defenders.

When asked by ABC News Chief National Affairs Correspondent Tom Llamas about whether he thought it was corrupt for a foreign government to be asked to probe a political rival, Zelenskiy said he has broken no laws and is not corrupt, and that he will not judge Trump or his actions.

Asked what Ukraine did to persuade the USA to release the aid, Zelenskiy said: 'We have many diplomatic contacts. "And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country's security, we use all our powerful possibilities". Zelensky is trying to save his reputation and distance himself from the USA political drama.

Recently disclosed text messages showed Bill Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, asking U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, "Are we now saying that security assistance and [a White House] meeting are conditioned on investigations?"

A TV and film comedian, Zelenskiy overwhelmingly won the presidency in April on promises to fight corruption and end the five-year conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy's aptly named "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court Thursday started over breakfast croissants. The first involves Trump's claims that Ukraine allied with the Democrats in a plot to derail his 2016 presidential campaign.

The sole aim of the phone call, he said, was to plan a meeting with Trump.

Questions have been raised about the Trump administration withholding aide to Ukraine around the time of the July 25 phone call between the two leaders and whether that was related to Trump's request to Zelenskiy to investigate Biden.

Zelensky has repeatedly emphasized that he felt no pressure during the call but in new remarks seemed to go further, specifically saying on October 10, "There was no blackmail".