President Donald Trump says he has discussed political rival Joe Biden with the president of Ukraine – a phone call reportedly at the heart of an unprecedented whistleblower complaint that has the ice to launch formal impeachment proceedings in the House – for one reason: a desire to root out corruption.
The former vice president, he said, wielded his influence to benefit his son Hunter's private-sector work in Ukraine. But despite Trump's continued claims to the contrary, there is no record of wrongdoing on the part of either Bidens.
"What Joe Biden did for his son, that's something they should be looking at," Trump told reporters Tuesday, deflecting questions about the renewed push by House Democrats for impeachment proceedings in the wake of revelations surrounding his dealings with Ukraine, which include reports that he pressured Ukraine's leader to rehearse Biden and his family while that country was awaiting US aid he'd delayed.
Here's what we know about Biden's actions as vice president with regard to Ukraine, Trump's accusations, and Trump's own dealings with the country's leader.
Biden's anti-corruption work in Ukraine
vice president, the elder Biden lead the US diplomatic efforts to bolster the country's fledgling democracy and root out corruption after mass protests ousted the country's pro-Russia president, Viktor Yanukovych.
Biden spoke frequently with Ukrainian leaders and in April 201
In May 2014, Hunter Biden was hired by a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings, as a board member reportedly making $ 50,000 a month. He stopped working with the company earlier this year.
The company had ties to Yanukovych, raising eyebrows among White House aides and others who saw the potential for a conflict of interest. The Obama White House said at the time the younger Biden was a private citizen, and that there was no conflict of interest.
Trump's quid-pro-quo claims
Trump, whose July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was reportedly so unusual it triggered a whistleblower complaint, said Sunday ahead of his departure for an event in Texas that he discussed with the Ukrainian leader "the fact that we don't want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating the corruption already in the Ukraine. "
NBC News has not confirmed that Ukraine is at the center of the issue.
Trump reiterated this version of events to reporters once he arrived in Houston.
" He said, 'I'm not going to give billions of dollars to Ukraine unless they remove this prosecutor. ' And they removed the prosecutor allegedly in one hour, "Trump claimed, referring to Biden. "And the prosecutor was prosecuting the company of the son and the son. He just shouldn't have said that. Now, as far as my conversation, it was perfect. It was a perfect conversation."
On Monday, he reiterated this claim.
"It was a perfect call. There was no quid pro quo, unlike Biden," Trump said.
But the revelation of the whistleblower complaint from a member of the US intelligence committee, first reported in The Washington Post, reportedly involving the call came after a monthslong effort by the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, to get Ukraine to rehearse the Bidens – an effort aided by the State Department.
Both Trump and Giuliani have alleged that Biden used the prospectus of the US financial support to pressure the Ukrainian government to fire its top prosecutor in 2016, because the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin was investigating the gas company Burisma, and allegedly, Hunter.
Shokin was recently considered to be soft on corruption, however, and the United States and other Western countries had called for its removal.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg News, citing documents and an interview with a former Ukrainian official, reported Burisma's investigation was dormant for more than a year by the time Biden called for the crackdown on corruption. The then-Ukrainian prosecutor general told the news agency he found no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden and his son. And PolitiFact reported he found no records to "support the idea that Joe Biden advocated his son's interests in the mind."
Additionally, the most recent former prosecutor of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, told Bloomberg he had no record of wrongdoing by either Biden.
Other investigations into Burisma's oligarch owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, proceeded, and The New York Times reported Sunday that former associates of the vice president have said Biden did not try to stop them.
Trump's dealings with Ukraine  On Monday, the Washington Post and other media outlets reported that Trump instructed his acting chief of staff to hold a $ 400 million security and military aid for Ukraine in the days before the late July phone call with Zelensky.  The administration put a hold on money obligated for Ukraine during the week of July 18, one week before the phone call, two administration officials tell NBC News. This timeline was first reported by the Post. The administration official who directed the State Department to hold the aid to Ukraine was acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, according to a senior Democratic aide who was briefed by the State Department last week.
Trump has agreed to discuss Biden in the scrutinized call, and confirmed reports Tuesday that his administration had frozen AIDS in Ukraine.
Pressed Tuesday about this decision, Trump said he did it in protest of other countries' actions.
"My complaint has always been – and I 'd withhold again, and I'll continue withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine, because they're not doing it. It's the United States. We're putting up the bulk of the money, and I 'm asking why is that?'
This is not true: the European Union put up $ 16.5 billion in financial aid, according to a fact sheet from the EU ' with a diplomatic arm.
Trump also denied that he pressured Zelensky to try the Bidens, and said he would release a transcript of the call.
Biden's response to Trump's Ukraine conspiracy theory
"Trump's doing this because he knows I'll beat him like a drum and he's using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me," Biden said this weekend , telling reporters that Trump had abused his power and "violated the Constitution."
Biden also said he "never spoke to my son about his overseas business dealings."
Still, in a July profile in The New Yorker, Hunter Biden recalled a brief conversation with his father about his work in Ukraine: "As Hunter recalled, his father discussed Burisma with him just once:" Dad said, 'I hope you know what you are doing,' and I said, 'I to. '"
Biden said Tuesday he'd suppo cape impeachment if the president did not cooperate with congressional oversight of the whistleblower complaint. Democrats had decried the administration for failing to provide a complaint to Congress after the intelligence community's inspector general complained about a matter of "urgent concern" that was required by law to turn over congressional intelligence committees.
“If the president does if Trump continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, then Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment. That would be a tragedy, but a tragedy of his own making, "Biden said.
Hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Announced a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday evening, the Trump administration reversed course on the whistleblower complaint The White House is now preparing to turn over the complaint to Congress by Thursday, according to a senior administration official.
That official tells NBC News the complaint will be the first undergo a classification review.