More trouble for Trump on Ukraine

US President Donald Trump insists he has done nothing wrong.                  REUTERS  Kevin Lamarque

US President Donald Trump insists he has done nothing wrong. REUTERS Kevin Lamarque

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says he didn't know military aid from the United States had been held up before a phone call with President Donald Trump that is at the center of an impeachment inquiry.

Democrats claim Trump pressured Zelenskiy to investigate the Bidens by threatening to withhold approved military aid.

Even before the call, security officials were concerned about the removal of the USA ambassador to Ukraine in May, and also about efforts by Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to spread conspiracies involving Ukraine and indications that Trump wanted Zelensky to offer up potentially damaging information about Biden, according to the newspaper.

But Mr. Zelensky also said that it would be up to the USA judicial and legislative systems to determine whether Mr. Trump had violated any US laws during the call.

Zelenskiy said the US has not provided any details of such interference.

Zelensky told reporters Thursday in response to the White House's release of the phone's transcript.

He said he thought the July call would lead to an in-person meeting with Trump, and wanted the American leader to come to Ukraine. "This was not the subject of our conversation", Zelenskiy said.

Volodymyr Zelensky, a popular comedian before he was elected president of Ukraine this spring, promised to bring a fresh kind of politics to the ex-Soviet nation. Mr Biden's son Hunter was on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma. He said he couldn't "say yes or no" as to whether there was interference. "I understand you and what you want - I clearly understand, directly". While Mr. Zelensky acknowledged regular contacts with the oligarch - Mr. Kolomoisky's former lawyer is Mr. Zelensky's chief of staff - he said that Mr. Kolomoisky knew that Mr. Zelensky would always put the national interests first.

But the deference Mr. Zelensky showed to Mr. Trump on the July 25 call raises questions about how he would fare in one-on-one negotiations with Mr. Putin, the former KGB agent who has ruled Russian Federation for two decades.

Trump tweeted Thursday that Zelenskiy's comment that there was no blackmail during the July call "should immediately end the talk of impeachment!"

Zelenskiy also joked about Trump's Twitter missives, saying he doesn't expect a change in U.S.