Former Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday night that a newly released summary of a call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from July seems to show Trump committed an impeachable offense when he repeatedly encouraged Zelensky to investigate the former vice president and his son.
(MORE: Read the transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukraine president )
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“Based on the material that they acknowledge today, it seems to me it’s awful hard to avoid the conclusion that it is an impeachable offense and a violation of constitutional responsibility,” Biden said on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday Night.
“The idea that someone would call a head of a foreign state, ahead of time withhold significant military aid that’s badly needed in order to prevent the Russian separatists that were in Ukraine from taking over Ukraine, and then ask, basically, can you cooperate with Rudy Giuliani, he’s coming over?” Biden said of the call.
Former Vice President Joe Biden appears on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live,’ Sept. 25, 2019.
“And the thing I learned–we learned, we all learned recently is that statement, that the 2000-word statement released was that [he] talked about getting the Justice Department engaged in this. I mean, it’s a–it’s such a blatant abuse of power that it just–I don’t think it can stand,” Biden said, referring to the revelation that Trump encouraged Zelensky to work with Attorney General William Barr on an investigation of Biden and his son, Hunter, on the call.
Biden’s comments mark some of his strongest remarks on impeachment yet, and go beyond his comments in a statement released earlier Wednesday, when Biden said Congress should “pursue the facts and quickly take prompt action to hold Donald Trump accountable.”
“My job is to go out and flat beat him,” Biden told Kimmel to applause from the audience. “I can’t let this distract me in a way that takes me away from the issues that really–the reason why I’m running.”
(MORE: ‘Start Here’: Pelosi launches impeachment inquiry of Trump, ‘No one is above the law’)
But Biden did acknowledge that if Donald Trump was not in the White House, he likely wouldn’t be a candidate in the 2020 race.
“If someone, if a decent man like Jeb Bush had won the Republican nomination, would you feel as motivated to run?” Kimmel asked the former vice president.
“I guess the honest answer is no,” Biden replied, saying it was the events of Charlottesville and President Trump’s reaction to it that prompted him to run.
(MORE: ‘I didn’t threaten anybody’: Trump calls Democratic impeachment push ‘a joke’ )
“The way that he’s trying to divide this country and the way he has pitted people against one another, and you saw, it didn’t just end, you know, with Charlottesville, look what happened in El Paso recently,’ Biden said referring to the mass shooting that took place in August.
“This division in our country is just so devastating, so devastating for so many people, and it’s ruining our standing around the world in a way that is going to be hard to–look, we can probably handle for years, if he doesn’t get us into war in the next year — and I’m not being a wise guy, I’m not being glib saying that — but eight years of Donald Trump will fundamentally alter the character of this nation in my view.”
Kimmel also pressed Biden on his pitch of bipartisanship and his ability to work with Republicans, which Biden often talks about on the campaign trail.
(MORE: Ukraine, impeachment inquiry potentially politically perilous for Biden: Experts)
“Why aren’t more Republicans standing up and saying, ‘Hey, this is just, we can’t go along with this anymore?’” the late-night host asked.
“Donald Trump has sort of, he’s got the entire Republican Party,” Biden said. “And so if you take him on, everybody knows how vindictive he is and how he’ll go after you. And so there’s a great concern.”
Biden argued that it was the politics, not the political system, that was broken — and getting Trump out of office could offer a shot at a political reset.
“It’s gotten so mean and ugly and divisive that I just think with him gone, there’s a chance to breathe new life into what everybody knows has to be done,” Biden said.