President Donald Trump on Friday did not deny that he discussed former Vice President Joe Biden with a foreign leader during a conversation that is reportedly the subject of a whistleblower complaint.
Instead, Trump claimed the allegations against him were lodged by a "partisan" intelligence official — despite acknowledging that he did not know the official's identity — and asserted that his exchanges with world leaders are "always appropriate."
He told reporters in the Oval Office that "it doesn't matter what I discussed" with the foreign leader but went on to say that "someone ought to look into Joe Biden."
The remarks from the president are sure to escalate tensions between the White House and Democratic members of Congress seeking access to the complaint, which acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to turn over to lawmakers.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) threatened Thursday to pursue legal action against the administration to acquire the complaint following a classified briefing Thursday with the intelligence community’s inspector general.
Trump's latest comments are also likely to heighten speculation that the conversation reportedly detailed in the complaint referred to his July 25 phone call with recently elected Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump told reporters he did not know whether that call was the subject of the whistleblower complaint.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the complaint involves a “promise” Trump made to a foreign leader, and the Post and The New York Times reported Thursday that it also has to do with Ukraine. POLITICO has not independently verified the Post's reporting.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani revealed Thursday evening that he had asked Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, telling CNN: “Of course I did.”
Trump earlier Friday morning denied making inappropriate comments to a foreign leader in a pair of tweets. “The Radical Left Democrats and their Fake News Media partners, headed up again by Little Adam Schiff, and batting Zero for 21 against me, are at it again!” he wrote online.
“They think I may have had a ‘dicey’ conversation with a certain foreign leader based on a ‘highly partisan’ whistleblowers statement,” Trump continued. “Strange that with so many other people hearing or knowing of the perfectly fine and respectful conversation, that they would not have also come forward.”
The president concluded: “Do you know the reason why they did not? Because there was nothing said wrong, it was pitch perfect!”