'Do us a favour': Details of Trump’s call revealed
Details of the controversial phone call made by Donald Trump to the Ukrainian president and that sparked an impeachment inquiry have been revealed.
The White House today released a five-page summary of the 30 minute conversation which took place on July 25 between the US President and Volodymyr Zelensky.
But contrary to some reports, it's "not a verbatim transcript", according to the administration.
It came one day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry would be launched against Mr Trump over an alleged abuse of power.
Democrats, who opened formal impeachment proceedings against the president on Tuesday, are investigating whether he pressured a foreign government to look into a political opponent, and if he used a $400 million aid package as leverage. There was no reference to the money in the documents.
TRUMP ON RUSSIA PROBE: 'GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT'
According to the summary viewed by news.com.au, Mr Trump asked Mr Zelensky to do him a "favour"and investigate the origins of the Russia probe, which by July had already ended, as well as former vice president Joe Biden, who served under Barack Obama.
"I would like you to do us a favour though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike," Mr Trump said.
The reference to Crowdstrike is unclear, although a cybersecurity firm by that name conducted an analysis of the Democratic National Committee hack in 2016 and determined that two groups connected to the Russian government were behind the attack.
"I would like to have the Attorney-General (Bill Barr) call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it," Mr Trump continued.
"As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible."
The Justice Department later put out a statement asserting that Mr Barr did not discuss any potential investigation of Mr Biden with Mr Trump.
TRUMP ON JOE BIDEN: 'IF YOU CAN LOOK INTO IT'
Mr Trump put the request to Mr Zelensky immediately after the Ukrainian president thanked him for America's defence support and said his country was "almost ready" to buy more US military technology.
When Mr Zelensky agreed, Mr Trump then brought up what he referred to as the "other thing", saying that "it "would be great" if he could also look into unsubstantiated allegations against Mr Biden - that he used his position to influence an investigation in Ukraine into his son Hunter.
"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney-General would be great," Mr Trump said on the call, appearing to refer to US Attorney-General Bill Barr. "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me."
These are not randomly timed ellipses. This cuts out words at the exact moment of the ask and exactly whey the full transcript is vital. pic.twitter.com/twec50QSf7— Casey Burgat (@CaseyBurgat) September 25, 2019
The transcript text is right around 2,000 words, and the call took exactly 30 min — that's about 66 words per minute.— Joshua Benton (@jbenton) September 25, 2019
That's quite slow — roughly half normal speaking rate. (Zelensky is fluent in English.)
Could suggest how much text isn't included. https://t.co/xoU7r6bxgr
Mr Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have argued that Mr Biden tried to use his influence as vice president to sideline an investigation into a Ukrainian company where his son served as a board member, but they have offered no evidence to back up the claim.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WEIGHS IN
Following the release of the White House memorandum, Mr Zelensky said he didn't feel pressured during his phone call with Mr Trump.
"We had - I think good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things, and I - so I think and you read it that nobody pushed me," he said, adding that he was reluctant to get involved in US politics.
Several Senate Republicans I've spoken with in the last hour are stunned that the WH is releasing this transcript. They do not think it helps the president's cause. And they expect today's Senate GOP lunch to be quite the get-together.— Robert Costa (@costareports) September 25, 2019
So this is the summary of the transcript that the White House thinks exonerates Trump?— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) September 25, 2019
That’s interesting. I just find that position so INTERESTING.
The phone call was one of several matters outlined in a whistleblower complaint that has so far not been made available to politicians.
The White House had previously blocked the release of the complaint to Congress' intelligence committees.
Lawyers representing the whistleblower said in a statement on Tuesday that there had been a "decision to release the whistleblower complaint," but did not provide further details.
Speaking to reporters in New York, Mr Trump insisted the memo proved his conversation with the Ukrainian president was a "nothing call".
"The way you had that built up, that call, it was going to be the call from hell," he said. "It turned out to be a nothing call, other than a lot of people said I never knew you could so nice."
Some of Mr Trump's congressional allies also rushed to claim that the summary proves Democrats' fears about the Ukraine call were baseless.
While critics, including Democratic presidential nominee hopeful Elizabeth Warren, have referred to the summary as the "smoking gun".
Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President? They should, a perfect call - got them by surprise!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2019
The president of the United States has betrayed our country.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 25, 2019
That’s not a political statement—it’s a harsh reality, and we must act.
He is a clear and present danger to the things that keep us strong and free.
I support impeachment.
This "transcript" itself is a smoking gun. If this is the version of events the president's team thinks is most favorable, he is in very deep jeopardy. We need to see the full whistleblower complaint and the administration needs to follow the law. Now. https://t.co/b56nLZZpRi— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 25, 2019
In response to the impeachment inquiry announcement earlier, Mr Trump accused the Democrats of "presidential harassment", describing Ms Pelosi's announcement as "breaking news Witch Hunt garbage".
An impeachment inquiry is the investigation that precedes a vote on the floor of the House before the impeachment trial is conducted by the Senate.
In this case, it will serve to give Democrats more tools to try to extract information from an unwilling Trump administration, following allegations Mr Trump pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate the son of his political rival Joe Biden.
The transcript of the call reads like a classic mob shakedown:— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 25, 2019
– We do a lot for Ukraine
– There’s not much reciprocity
– I have a favor to ask
– Investigate my opponent
– My people will be in touch
Nice country you got there.
It would be a shame if something happened to her.
Speaker Pelosi’s decree changes absolutely nothing. As I have been telling Chairman Nadler for weeks, merely claiming the House is conducting an impeachment inquiry doesn’t make it so. Until the full House votes to authorize an inquiry, nobody is conducting a formal inquiry.— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) September 24, 2019
If they obtain sufficient evidence, the Democrats can then move to craft articles of impeachment - criminal charges - and send them to the full House where the voting process will commence.