POLITICS

Phone call transcript: Trump asked for Ukraine’s help in investigating 2016 and Biden

Phone call transcript: Trump asked for Ukraine’s help in investigating 2016 and Biden

In the just-released transcript of a July 25 call, President Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for help in investigating alternative theories of 2016 election interference. Trump also asked Zelensky to look into the case of a Ukrainian prosecutor fired amid an investigation into a company that employed Trump rival Joe Biden’s son.

After opening pleasantries, Trump complained that European nations, especially Germany, did not do enough to aid Ukraine. Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the United States, with a tone bordering on obsequiousness, several times.

Then Trump got to 2016, specifically mentioning the role of Crowdstrike, the company that the Democratic National Committee retained to examine its servers in the hacking affair. The DNC never turned over the actual servers to FBI investigators. The reference to Crowdstrike is unclear; it is possible Trump actually meant “black ledger,” which refers to Ukrainian evidence cited in the Paul Manafort case. In any event, this is what Trump said:

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. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like to get to the bottom of it. 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.

“Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier,” Zelensky said. “For me as a president, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation.”

Zelensky also said that he would appoint a new ambassador to the U.S., adding, “I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us.”

Trump moved on to the issue of Viktor Shokin, the Ukrainian prosecutor fired under pressure from the U.S. and other countries. Biden has bragged about his role in firing Shokin, who was involved in an investigation that touched on a company that employed Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. This is what Trump told Zelensky:

I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, 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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.

Zelensky said that he understood the situation. He said that since winning an absolute majority in Parliament, “the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person.”

“The issue of the investigation of the case,” Zelensky continued, “is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty, so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case.”

Trump said he would have Giuliani — and also Attorney General William Barr — call. “We will get to the bottom of it,” Trump said. “I’m sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything.”

The two exchanged further regards and ended the call.

The transcript is not an exact, verbatim record of what was said, but it does appear to be a close record of what was said. It was prepared by National Security Council staff who listened in on the call.

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