NEW YORK, Sept. 25 - The White House on Wednesday released a transcript of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy showing he sought a review of Biden family dealings in the country — but the document does not show Trump explicitly leveraging military aid as part of a quid pro quo, Fox News reported.
The Trump-Zelenskiy conversation led to a whistleblower complaint against the president, provoking the avalanche of impeachment calls from Democrats.
The document, declassified by Trump a day earlier, indicates that the call – which Trump made from the White House residence -- took place July 25.
The memo begins with the president congratulating Zelenskiy on his election victory, before Trump eventually broaches the subject former Vice President Joe Biden and 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,” Trump said in the phone call. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…It sounds horrible to me.”
This refers to Joe Biden, while vice president, urging Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings — where Hunter Biden was on the board. Biden has maintained that corruption concerns prompted his intervention.
Trump, in the run-up to the transcript's release, was accused by Democrats of essentially pressuring a foreign power to investigate a political opponent, as Biden is now a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
On Monday, it was reported that Trump had even ordered his staff to freeze nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine a few days before the phone call with Zelenskiy, a detail that fueled impeachment calls and led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce a formal impeachment inquiry Tuesday.
But the call transcript does not show Trump explicitly mentioning the aid as a bargaining chip or otherwise — though Zelenskiy did appear to reference military aid early in the call, when he thanked Trump for "great support in the area of defense."
Trump also noted early on that the U.S. has been "very very good to Ukraine" as he suggested the relationship is not always "reciprocal."
The transcript shows Zelenskiy eventually suggesting to Trump the Biden matter would be looked into by a new prosecutor. “He or she will look into the situation specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue, the issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and we will work on the investigation of the case.”
Trump told Zelenskiy he wanted his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr to get involved.
“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you call and I’m also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I’m sure you will figure it out,” he said. (fox/ez)