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Trump calls whistleblower story "ridiculous"


President Trump on Friday called a story about a whistleblower complaint involving his communication with a foreign leader a "ridiculous" story. He claimed that his conversations with foreign leaders are "always appropriate — at the highest level always appropriate." 

Mr. Trump's remarks came during a meeting in the Oval Office with a foreign leader, Austrialian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Asked whether he had discussed former Vice President and current presidential candidate Joe Biden with Ukraine, the president responded, "it doesn't matter what I discussed," and he said that someone should look into Biden. He then accused reporters of not investigating because Biden is a Democrat. The Wall Street Journal reported later in the day that the president pressured Ukraine's president to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on the matter about eight times. 

Mr. Trump said that he does not know the identity of the whistleblower, but called the person "partisan." He told reporters that "it's just another political hack job." 

The president also just announced that the U.S. has imposed sanctions on the Iranian National Bank. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was in the room for the meeting with Morrison, was asked how big the sanctions are. He replied that they were "very big" and reached the top. 

The visit, which is only the second state visit Mr. Trump has hosted, comes amid reports that Ukraine was the subject of the mysterious whistleblower complaint causing a standoff between Congress and the intelligence community. In a heated interview on CNN Thursday night, Mr. Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani first said he didn't ask Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden and his son for bribery and then, less than 30 seconds later, reversed himself and said "of course I did."

Giuliani, who had planned to visit Ukraine but later canceled the visit, told the New York Times in May that  it was his right to travel to Ukraine to "defend" his client — to try to push for investigations he thought could be "very helpful" to the president. 

The whistleblower complaint involves a conversation Mr. Trump had with a world leader who has't been publicly identified. The Washington Post reported Thursday that the complaint involved Ukraine.

The leaders will meet for talks and face journalists at a joint news conference in the White House East Room. Morrison will also be treated to lunch at the State Department.

Mr. Trump and Morrison will cap Friday night with state dinner beneath the stars in a Rose Garden arrayed in shades of green and gold in tribute to his Australia's national colors. Mr. Trump and Morrison will spend part of Sunday together when they tour a new, Australian-owned manufacturing facility in Ohio.

The leaders plan talks Friday on military, intelligence and economic issues, focusing on the Indo-Pacific region. They intend to sign a memorandum of understanding to further U.S. and Australia cooperation in space, according to a senior administration official.

Mr. Trump and Morrison also will discuss how to ensure a stable market and supply of minerals known as rare earths, which are widely used in electric cars and cellphones, the official said. They will roll out programs for the countries to work together on recycling ocean plastics, which harm marine wildlife and fishing, said the official, who was not authorized to provide details of the meetings and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Trump held his first state visit for French President Emmanuel Macron last year.

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