White House

GOP Primary Challenger Bill Weld Accuses Trump of Treason over Ukraine Call

Bill Weld speaks at a rally during his 2016 Libertarian party campaign, September 10, 2016. (File photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters)

Republican presidential primary challenger Bill Weld said Monday that President Trump committed treason by urging the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden for corruption.

“Obviously canceling primaries undermines Democratic institutions and Democratic elections. But thats far from the deepest crime that the president has committed here,” Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.

“He’s now acknowledged that in a single phone call, right after he suspended 250 million dollars of military aid to Ukraine, he called up the president of Ukraine and pressed him eight times to investigate Joe Biden, who the president thinks is going to be running against him,” Weld continued. “Talk about pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election. It couldn’t be clearer, and that’s not just undermining democratic institutions. That is treason. It’s treason and pure and simple and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death.”

President Trump urged Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, on eight separate occasions during a July phone call, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

Trump reportedly asked Zelensky to probe whether Biden used his influence as vice president to quash an investigation into a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma Holdings, which had recently hired Biden’s son, Hunter, to serve on its board of directors.

The call came ahead of the release of a $250 military aid package to the Ukraine, prompting speculation that Trump leveraged the offer of aid to coerce the opening of an investigation.

Biden did threaten withhold U.S. aid to Ukraine in 2014 unless a top government prosecutor, who was then investigating Burisma, was fired. But Biden maintains that his actions were unrelated to his son’s businesses and instead reflected the Obama administration’s opposition to that prosecutor.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify Weld’s reference to the death penalty.

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