ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl explained to the cast of "The View" on Monday why whistleblower accusations about President Trump's phone call with the president of Ukraine look "bad" and explained why the underlying accusations of corruption against former VP Joe Biden and his son Hunter also have merit.
"They say because they look so bad, by blocking this [whistleblower complaint], it seems like they are hiding something and they’re saying, 'Well, what he said isn’t that bad,'" Karl said about the whistleblower complaint. "And you have what the president himself has already acknowledged, which is even if there was no quid pro quo, even if he wasn’t holding that aid over the head of the president of Ukraine, merely bringing up your political opponent in a conversation with a newly elected president, any president of a foreign country, is going to be seen as problematic."
Karl also explained the allegations against the Biden family, saying: "First of all, there's no evidence of corruption there but here's what the story is: Hunter Biden's firm did work with this company in the Ukraine. They were paid $166,000 a month retainer. Two of them are on the board of the firm, so we believe he could have gotten roughly half of that. So he was getting a significant amount of money advising this Ukrainian firm."
"Now, Hunter Biden, as far as I know, doesn't have a lot of experience with Ukraine," he explained. "I think if his name were Hunter Smith he probably wouldn't be getting paid."
"And then there's this issue of this prosecutor that had been investigating or, depending on who you believe, shaking down that company, wanted that prosecutor fired, and Biden, the vice president, then vice president, was -- had urged that he be fired," he added.
JONATHAN KARL: That was an extraordinary clip because what you have is the president of the United States acknowledging that in a phone call with the president of Ukraine that he talked about his potential 2020 rival, Joe Biden.
That in and of itself, that's what he himself appears to have said rather directly in that conversation. The other thing that is important is the context, which is at the time of that call the United States, the Trump administration, was withholding $250 million worth of aid that Congress had already approved, intended for Ukraine. So we don't know, was he pressuring, was he suggesting. We don't know any of that.
JOY BEHAR: Eight times.
JONATHAN KARL: But according to "The Wall Street Journal", says that in that conversation, on eight separate occasions, he urged the president of Ukraine to investigate Biden and his son...
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: This is the person who has been sort of called the whistleblower, who no one knows who it is -- or I didn't know who it is... said I have to tell somebody about this. This is insanity. And so he said, "Hey, he's doing some strange stuff over here," and they said, that's okay, don't worry about it.
JONATHAN KARL: Well, it was a strange thing because -- so the whistleblower -- who all we know about the whistleblower is it's somebody who works in the intelligence community. So the whistleblower raised the alarm to the inspect are general, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of National Intelligence passed this on, it's his duty by law to pass on such complaints to Congress, to notify Congress. But the acting Director of National Intelligence said, well, not necessarily here because it doesn't deal with the intelligence community. The complaint was about somebody else. In other words, it was about the president.
JOY BEHAR: What do you make of that? Kind of like passing the buck now?
JONATHAN KARL: Well we have a big showdown now, because Nancy Pelosi is saying that the administration has until Thursday because that's when the acting DNI goes before Congress. They have until Thursday to turn that complaint over to Congress and if not, she is saying we have a whole new phase of the investigation.
JOY BEHAR: What about the transcript of the conversation?
ABBY HUNTSMAN: That's what they're asking to be turned over to congress. The question is Nancy Pelosi is going to have to make that decision if it's not turned over, decide what to do.
SUNNY HOSTIN: And the whistleblower complaints as well.
JONATHAN KARL: Two things. Nancy Pelosi is demanding the whistleblower complaint and saying by statute they absolutely have to turn over.
SUNNY HOSTIN: The statute says "shall."
JONATHAN KARL: There's no law he has to turn over the transcript. They can argue it's executive privilege, a private conversation. But, I'll tell you what I'm getting told just this morning, the White House is -- there are people on the president's team that are urging him to release that transcript.
JOY BEHAR: Really?
JONATHAN KARL: They say because they look so bad, by blocking this report it seems like they are hiding something and they're saying, well, what he said isn't that bad.
SUNNY HOSTIN: I have a question for you. What exactly was the nature of Joe Biden's son's work in the Ukraine? Hunter Biden's son in the Ukraine -- Joe's son. And why exactly does the president seem to imply that that work was somehow corrupt?
JONATHAN KARL: First of all, there's no evidence of corruption there but here's what the story is:
Hunter Biden's firm did work with this company in the Ukraine. They were paid $166,000 a month retainer. Two of them are on the board of the firm, so we believe he could have gotten roughly half of that. So he was getting a significant amount of money advising this Ukrainian firm. Now, Hunter Biden, as far as I know, doesn't have a lot of experience with Ukraine. I think if his name were Hunter Smith he probably wouldn't be getting paid.
DUNNY HOSTIN: And it was a gas company.
JON KARL: Yes. And then there's this issue of this prosecutor that had been investigating or, depending on who you believe, shaking down that company, wanted that prosecutor fired, and Biden, the vice president, then vice president, was -- had urged that he be fired.
ABBY HUNTSMAN: But the irony, John, is Don Jr. who met with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: He was trying to adopt a baby. Wanting stuff on
ABBY HUNTSMAN: And stuff on Hilary Clinton. Frankly, you have Ivanka and all the kids involved in the business dealings.
JOY BEHAR: Trump himself has 487 conflicts of interest according to the sunlight foundation.
JON KARL: Even if that's off by a few -- it's a lot.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: I have a question for conservatives. I'm very skeptical of anything anymore because I feel like -- no disrespect to journalists, but every day the end of the world is coming so how bad is this really?
JON KARL: I think that this is significant and this is a little bit different and very easy to understand.
And you have what the president himself has already acknowledged, which is even if there was no quid pro quo, even if he wasn't holding that aid over the head of the president of Ukraine, merely bringing up your political opponent in a conversation with a newly elected president, any president of a foreign country, is going to be seen as problematic. And that's why you see even Mitt Romney who's criticized in the president in the past.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: He's a flip-flopper. I don't trust him either. He'll change his mind by this afternoon. Don't worry about Mitt Romney.
JON KARL: I'm hearing that Republicans don't like defending this.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: No, I don't. But you have to understand the skepticism because again, impeachment every day. And we all trust you, obviously.
ABBY HUNTSMAN: And the whistleblower may be like a secondhand source. Things like that come out and it makes you wonder how direct is this to what actually happened?
JON KARL: That's why I point to what the president himself said. The whistleblower -- and it's been reported was not directly listening to the call -- but heard it secondhand but we don't know, did the whistleblower see a transcript?
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: The whistleblower -- something happened because the whistleblower said, listen, something's going on.
MEGHAN MCCAIN: Trump just admitted it.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Yeah, and you know, first he said, well, I don't think I -- did I talk to him? I don't recall. Then he says, oh him, yeah, I know him. We talked about some simple stuff. It's like the whistleblower blew a whistle and said something's wrong here and it was big enough for this person to say, "y'all need to take care of it," even though they said it's okay.
JON KARL: And the administration is blocking that whistleblower's complaint from going to Congress. So it all looks --
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Kind of stinky.
JON KARL: Which is why, like I said, some on the president's team are saying he should go ahead and release the transcript. They're insisting it's not as bad as it looks but it sure looks --
WHOOPI GOLDBERG: Stinky.