In an explosive revelation Wednesday, the White House released call records showing President Trump pressing Ukraine’s president to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and to help in discrediting special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
Despite claims by Trump in advance of the release that the call was “perfect” and would be helpful to him, the record of the call showed Trump pressuring Ukraine on both fronts of the smear campaign being spearheaded by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
The Trump call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the subject of a whistleblower’s complaint from the intelligence community that has spurred House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry, posing a grave new threat the Trump presidency.
The five-page record of the call has been at the center of a political firestorm over Trump’s – and his attorney Rudy Giuliani’s – efforts to pressure Ukraine into manufacturing political dirt on Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.
The White House’s version of the call appears to contain notes that constitute a “memorandum” of the telephone conversation between the two leaders. The document itself includes a disclaimer stating that it is “not a verbatim transcript.”
Trump referenced “Rudy,” the memorandum shows, and asks Zelensky to “speak with him.”
Trump also references “a lot of talk about Biden’s son.” He goes on to tell Zelensky, the memorandum says, that “Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that.”
Trump goes on to say that “whatever you can do with the Attorney General [Bill Barr] would be great.”
In a Wednesday statement, Barr said that he only learned of the call “several weeks” after it took place, upon receiving a criminal referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General. Barr denied having any communications with Ukraine, and also said that neither Trump nor Giuliani had directed him to work with Ukraine on the Biden issue, or any other.
At one point, Zelensky brings up the prospect of further lethal military aid from the U.S. to Ukraine. It’s at that point when Trump immediately replies: “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.”
Trump then disparaged the testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller before Congress the day before – July 24, urging Zelensky to help with an investigation of the origins of the Russia probe which, Trump purportedly said, “started with Ukraine.” He added that Zelensky should “find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine.”
“As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller,” Trump added.
“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” Trump later told Zelensky, according to the record.
Zelensky replied that the chief prosecutor he then intended to appoint would be “100% my person.” The Ukrainian president added: “He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.”
Zelensky also referred to former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on the White House’s version of the call, who stepped down after lobbying from Giuliani, saying that “it was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%”
The Ukrainian leader later added to Trump that last time he was in the United States, he “stayed at the Trump Tower.”
Read the White House’s record of the call below: