President Trump vehemently defended his conversations with the president of Ukraine amid the impeachment inquiry against him and tried to turn the tables on former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff and the media during a contentious White House press conference Wednesday where he claimed to be the victim of a great "hoax."
Raising questions about the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter, while Biden was vice president, Trump asserted in the East Room of the White House: “Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked. And you know it.”
The comments were made during a joint press conference with Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland. Trump has repeatedly talked about Hunter Biden’s past work in foreign countries as Biden seeks the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.
In reference to Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine and China, the president said: “His son walks out with millions of dollars. And the kid knows nothing.” The Bidens have denied wrongdoing, though critics have questioned why Hunter Biden, who did not have experience in Ukraine, was hired to sit on the board of a Ukrainian firm in 2014 while his father was vice president.
During an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday, Biden shot back at Trump and said, "there is zero, zero, zero evidence of any assertion being made."
During Wednesday’s press conference, the president appeared irritated when an American reporter repeatedly pressed him on exactly what he wanted from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky when he asked for the country to look into the Bidens. That July phone call ignited the recent House Democratic impeachment inquiry, as Democrats said it's evidence of Trump asking a foreign country to intervene in the 2020 election.
“Did you hear me?” Trump told Reuters’ Jeff Mason, motioning for him to ask the president of Finland a question. “Ask him a question. I’ve given you a long answer. Ask this gentlemen a question. Don’t be rude.”
After Mason tried to follow up on the question, Trump dismissed the impeachment allegations as a “hoax” and accused journalists of “playing into it.”
“People like you and the fake news media that we have in this country,” he said. “And I say in many cases, the corrupt media because you’re corrupt. Much of the media in this country is not just fake, it’s corrupt.”
Earlier in the press conference, Trump responded to House Democratic committee leaders announcing Wednesday that they plan to subpoena the White House for documents related to any efforts to pressure Ukraine to probe Biden, saying, “I always cooperate."
He later dismissed those Democratic subpoenas, complaining that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hands out subpoenas “like cookies,” while claiming former Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan was more restrained when it came to subpoenas.
Speaking of Pelosi, he said, “You want a subpoena, here ya' go, take them like they’re cookies.”
The president also ripped into House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif. -- calling him "Shifty Schiff" – and raising alarm over a new report indicating Schiff knew about the whistleblower complaint against Trump before it was filed.
“I think it’s a scandal that he knew before," Trump said. “That's a big story. He knew long before, and he helped write it too. It's a scam."
Trump also argued the Ukraine allegations are just an extension of Democratic efforts to push discredited allegations that he colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. On Wednesday, he said he might sue people over the Russia probe, though didn’t say whom he would target.
"I probably will be bringing a lot of litigation against a lot of people having to do with the corrupt investigation having to do with the 2016 election,” Trump said. “And I have every right to do that. Because the way they’ve treated me and other people.”
He added: “They’ve destroyed people. They’ve destroyed their lives. With a phony charge that never existed. And that was collusion.”