By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged Tuesday he froze aid to Ukraine in the run-up to a telephone conversation with that country's president that has drawn scrutiny after a whistle-blower flagged the discussion for possible wrongdoing.
Trump continued to deny any wrongdoing, claiming he did not seek a "quid pro quo" from recently-seated President Volodymyr Zelensky in return for freeing up the blocked funding.
The president said he held up the $400 million in military aid to get European nations to help fund the effort.
"Why is the United States the only one paying for Ukraine? And I’ve been talking abut this for a long time. Not only with respect to Ukraine but a lot of other countries,” Trump said during a meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. “Frankly why isn’t Germany - I just met with the chancellor - why isn’t Germany, why isn’t France, why aren’t those other countries paying? And why are we paying all the time? And nobody’s given, I believe, more to Ukraine."
Revelations of the whistle-blower complaint and ensuing claims that Trump sought to hold up the funding in an effort to have Zelensky probe former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, for possible corruption have prompted increasing calls for congressional Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against the president.
Doing so would be an improper use of his office.
Joe Biden was the point person for Ukraine during the Obama administration and sought to have the country crack down on corruption, which included his successful call for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, which was supported at the time by the international community.
Shokin was reportedly probing Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company whose board the younger Biden joined in 2014, among other cases.
Joe Biden is the leading contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination and could potentially face off against Trump next November.
Trump has charged that Biden and his son are corrupt, but he has yet to lay out any evidence to support his claims. Trump's three eldest children -- Donald Trump, Jr., Eric and Ivanka -- are all involved in international business dealings while their father occupies the Oval Office.
Trump and the White House have so far declined to release a transcript of the call that could potentially exonerate the president of wrongdoing.
Biden has urged Trump to release the transcript, and said Tuesday he would support impeachment proceedings if the White House stonewalls congressional demands for information on the call.