Steve Scalise Says Law Required Trump To Ask Ukrainian President About Corruption

Posted: Nov 03, 2019 2:29 PM

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La) told ABC's "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos that Trump had a legal requirement to ensure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was rooting out corruption before Trump could legally send foreign aid to Ukraine. Rep. Scalise said the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year requires the president to certify a country is rooting out corruption before the president can send taxpayer money to that country.

"Well, first of all on that call [President Trump] was not talking about the 2020 election or political opponents, he was talking about corruption relating to the 2016 elections. By the way, when Russia tried to interfere, George, when Russia tried to interfere with our election, it was Barack Obama who was president, not Donald Trump. President Trump has a legal requirement to ensure that the country given foreign aid, in this case Ukraine, is taking steps to root out corruption. And he and President Zelensky talked about that. Zelensky, in fact, was asked, did he think it was inappropriate, was there pressure put on him, and President Zelensky said he wasn't pressured. And he got the money ultimately. He got the money."

Rep. Scalise says Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky was not about Trump's 2020 political rivals, but about the past actions of former Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has admitted to pressuring the Ukrainian government into firing a prosecutor that was investigating Burisma, a company that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden's son, served as board member. Hunter Biden lacked the experience for the board position, but nevertheless drew a monthly salary of $50,000 or more. Rep. Scalise says it was these actions of former Vice President Joe Biden that Trump had a legal obligation to discuss with Zelensky. 

"It wasn't about the 2020 election, it was about what had happened prior in 2016, corruption in Ukraine. And again, the law requires the President to certify that a country before they get foreign aid is actually taking steps to root out corruption. [Speaker Pelosi] voted for that. [Chairman Adam Schiff] voted for that. I would imagine Eliot Engel voted for that. But at the end of the day, the President was talking to Zelensky about rooting out corruption. And Zelensky himself said there was nothing wrong with the call. He wasn't pressured. And he got the money. He actually got the taxpayer money."