During a press conference at the White House with Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö, Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason asked Trump to explain what exactly he had wanted Zelensky to do about the former vice president and his son, Hunter.
In his long-winded response, Trump defended his phone call with Zelensky and bashed Europe for not giving more money to Ukraine. He then told Mason to ask Niinistö a question, but another reporter interrupted to press Trump about Biden.
“Look, Biden and his son are stone cold crooked,” Trump claimed. “You know it and so do we.”
Trump has accused then-Vice President Biden of calling for the removal of a corrupt prosecutor in Ukraine for the purpose of impeding an investigation into the Ukrainian gas company upon whose board Hunter Biden was serving. Ukrainian authorities have cleared Biden of any wrongdoing.
Mason pushed Trump again: “But the question, sir, was what did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter?”
“Are you talking to me?” Trump asked after a few moments of silence. “Haven’t you finished with me? Listen, we have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.”
But Mason continued to press Trump to answer the question, drawing heated pushback from the president.
“Ask him a question,” Trump said, motioning to Niinistö. “Don’t be rude. ... I’ve answered everything. It’s a whole hoax. And you know who’s playing into the hoax? People like you and the fake news media.”
Trump’s phone call with Zelensky is the subject of a whistleblower complaint filed by a U.S. intelligence official in August, which prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to open a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump last week.
Trump has repeatedly claimed his conversation with Zelensky was “perfect” and that he’s the victim of a “witch hunt” orchestrated by Democrats.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire testified before a congressional committee last week that he believes the whistleblower, who has not been identified publicly, “acted in good faith” and “followed the law” when filing the complaint.
The whirlwind press conference Wednesday was eyebrow-raising from the start, with Niinistö imploring Trump to keep American democracy alive.
“Mr. President, you have here a great democracy. Keep it going on,” the Finnish president told Trump, who raised his eyebrows and nodded in response.
Niinistö also pushed for global action on climate change and urged Trump to work with world leaders on trade.
Asked to elaborate on his democracy comments, Niinistö said, “I just wanted to tell him that I’m impressed with what the American people have gained during these decades, these 100 or so years. ... So keep it going on.”