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Trump says he’ll consider releasing transcript of call with Ukraine leader

President Donald Trump. | Evan Vucci/AP Photo

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he would consider releasing a transcript of a phone call he had with Ukraine’s leader, even though two of his Cabinet secretaries said only hours earlier that such conversations must remain “private.”

“We’ll make a determination about how to release it, releasing it, saying what we said,” the president told reporters in Houston. “It was an absolutely perfect conversation. The problem is, when you’re speaking to foreign leaders, you don’t want foreign leaders to feel that they shouldn’t be speaking openly and good. … You want them to be able to express themselves without knowing that not every single word is going to be going out and going out all over the world.”

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News reports say that Trump pressured officials in Ukraine to undertake an investigation that would damage former Vice President Joe Biden, his potential Democratic opponent in 2020. A whistleblower complaint said to involve the president’s actions is now the focus of a battle over congressional review.

Those seeking an investigation want to know whether Trump, in a July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, made U.S. aid contingent on the country’s looking into Biden’s son Hunter, who had business dealings there.

On Sunday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the details of Trump’s call shouldn’t be made public.

“Those are private conversations between world leaders,” Pompeo said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I would leave whether that should be released” to the White House, he added.

Mnuchin went a step further.

“I think it would be highly inappropriate to release a transcript of a call between two world leaders,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Congress would be overreaching should it request to see such a transcript, Mnuchin continued.

“What I have a problem with is Congress asking for a transcript between world leaders,” he said. “I think that those are confidential discussions, and that’s a difficult precedent.”

Both Cabinet members said they weren’t on the call with Zelensky.

Their comments come as the White House tries to deflect blowback from the allegations of Ukrainian collusion by redirecting the conversation to claims that Biden, when he was vice president, threatened to withhold $ 1 billion in aid from Ukraine while demanding the firing of a prosecutor who was investigating the gas company where Hunter Biden held a board position.

In Iowa on Saturday, Joe Biden shot back at Trump.

“You should be asking him the question: Why is he on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader?” Biden told reporters. “This appears to be an overwhelming abuse of power.”

The president criticized those remarks on Sunday in Houston.

“Vice President Biden did a terrible thing, the way he put it,” Trump told reporters, adding: “I’m not looking to hurt him with respect to his son.”

The president went after Biden again later Sunday. Trump tweeted: “The Ukrainian Government just said they weren’t pressured at all during the “nice” call. Sleepy Joe Biden, on the other hand, forced a tough prosecutor out from investigating his son’s company by threat of not giving big dollars to Ukraine. That’s the real story!“

Rishika Dugyala contributed to this report.

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