Jake Tapper Corners Steve Mnuchin On Ukraine Call: ‘So It’s Ok For Trump’s Kids’ But Not For Biden’s?

Donald Trump’s pressure campaign aimed at compelling Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son Hunter is now the talk of the town inside the Beltway.

As such, Steve Mnuchin found himself forced to respond to questions about the burgeoning scandal while making the Sunday TV rounds. (Trump vociferously denied doing anything untoward in a barrage of irritated Saturday tweets and repeated those denials while speaking to reporters on Sunday.)

“I don’t expect there to be any issues with it whatsoever”, Mnuchin told Jake Tapper, after explaining that there were likely multiple people on the phone call at the center of the storm.


“Is it common for him to press foreign leaders to investigate his political rivals”, a concerned Tapper asked. “Is that something you’ve heard before?”

Mnuchin said he hadn’t, before accusing Tapper of “speculating on what the president said”. To be clear, Tapper was simply asking Mnuchin about the information that is currently available about a whistle-blower complaint tied to the July 25 phone conversation. It is the White House which is reportedly pressuring the acting director of national intelligence to withhold that complaint from Congress.

Steve pivoted to making unfounded allegations about Joe and Hunter Biden. Tapper reminded him that those allegations are based on the same New Yorker article we referred readers to on Friday, which contains this passage:

In December, 2015, as Joe Biden prepared to return to Ukraine, his aides braced for renewed scrutiny of Hunter’s relationship with Burisma. Amos Hochstein, the Obama Administration’s special envoy for energy policy, raised the matter with Biden, but did not go so far as to recommend that Hunter leave the board. 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 do.’ ”

That, apparently, is what critics are seizing upon, which is strange considering the article is not an investigative report, but rather an actual profile of Hunter’s various exploits as recounted by Hunter himself.

In any event, Tapper then reminded Mnuchin that he isn’t really “speculating” when it comes to the content of the call. “You say it’s speculative, but both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have reported on the contents of this call and there’s a whistle-blower who is trying to bring it to [Congress’s] attention”, Tapper said.

Mnuchin then suggested that the Post and the Journal are lying, an extremely perilous thing to contend on national television considering there is doubtlessly an account of this call and considering the existence of the whistle-blower complaint.

Asked why, if everything is really above board, the White House doesn’t just let Congress see the complaint, Mnuchin said he “thinks that would be a terrible precedent [because] conversations between world leaders are supposed to be confidential”.

That’s the same argument Mnuchin made about Trump’s tax returns, by the way.

Steve also made the mistake of saying that “What I find inappropriate is at the time vice president Biden’s son did significant business in Ukraine and should be further investigated”.

Having let Mnuchin walk right into it, Tapper replied, “So it’s ok for Trump’s kids to do business all over the world while Trump is president”?


Mnuchin floundered. “I don’t want to go more into these details”. 

Of course you don’t, Steve.

Full exchange

Tapper: “Let me just close by asking if, for instance, President Obama had pressured a foreign leader, Putin or the president of Ukraine, anyone, and said ‘I want you to look into Donald Trump Jr. or Eric Trump, international businessmen, both of them,’ would you not find that inappropriate?”

Mnuchin: “I’m not going to speculate on that. What I do find inappropriate is the fact that Vice President Biden’s son did very significant business dealings in Ukraine. I, for one, find that to be concerning and to me that is the issue perhaps that should be further investigated.”

Tapper: “I don’t understand. So it is okay for Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump to do business all over the world and okay for Ivanka Trump to have international copyrights while President Trump is president and, while Joe Biden was vice president, his son shouldn’t be able to do business dealings?”

Mnuchin: “Again, I don’t want to go into more of the details other than to say I think there is a significant difference in what you’re saying. What I was saying was between Biden and his son’s relationship with the Ukraine oligarch, and potential business dealings that the Trump Organization has had, which pre-dated his presidency.”

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