Trump’s Words To Ukraine President: It ‘Would Be Great’ If He Investigated Political Foe Joe Biden
The White House has released a memorandum detailing an exchange between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that took place earlier this year.
The memo is not a verbatim transcript of the conversation the two leaders had. As Reuters previously reported, notetakers who pen such memos are sometimes prone to leave certain elements out of presidential conversations, to avoid the possibility of controversy from them if they are ever made public.
“Typically a note-taker will write notes about what the principal says in a fashion that does not embarrass their principal,” said Evelyn Farkas, who was a deputy secretary within the Department of Defense under former President Barack Obama.
Still, the release of the memo on Wednesday gave insights into why a whistleblower within the intelligence community felt it was necessary to alert the Inspector General to the exchange.
Trump specifically asked Zelensky to open an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden, ABC News reported, who is running for president in 2020 hoping to secure the Democratic Party’s nomination — and who could be Trump’s main opposition in the general election presidential contest.
Trump said to Zelensky that Biden improperly pushed for a former Ukrainian official, prosecutor Viktor Shokin, to be fired, which the president alleged was a conflict of interest due to Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, having business interests there.
“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 to Zelensky in the call. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”
Zelensky also made mention of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whom Trump said “knows what’s happening” and would be “a very capable guy” to help in the investigation. “If you could speak to him that would be great,” Trump added.
The transcript of Donald Trump's call with Volodymyr Zelensky shows that he repeatedly pushed Ukraine's President to work with Rudy Giuliani & the US Attorney General to investigate his political rival Joe Biden
The transcript literally shows Donald Trump abused his power https://t.co/1a7EuUYBje
— Edward Hardy (@EdwardTHardy) September 25, 2019
Trump also asserted in the phone conversation that Hillary Clinton’s email server is somewhere in Ukraine, and pushed Zelensky to recover its contents, the Washington Post reported.
“The server, they say Ukraine has it. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it,” Trump said.
Before making the requests to investigate Biden, Trump reminded Zelensky that “we do a lot for Ukraine.” Just days before the call, military aid from the U.S. was suspended to that nation, and many have alleged Trump was using the aid money as a means to get Zelensky to conduct the investigation as a quid pro quo, although the contents of the memo do not definitively suggest as much.
The allegations made by Trump against Biden are considered dubious by many who have studied the situation. As detailed in a report from HillReporter.com earlier this year, a former Ukrainian official said that no conflicts of interest occurred when Biden was trying to push for Shokin’s ouster.
Furthermore, it wasn’t just Biden who was calling for Shokin to be removed from his position — it was an international effort, by many leaders, who pushed for it as well, as corruption was flourishing under the previous regime, including allegedly within Shokin’s department. The Ukrainian people themselves had protested outside former President Petro Poroshenko’s office daily, demanding Shokin be removed, per reporting from Radio Free Europe.
The revelations that a whistleblower had qualms with Trump’s conversation with Zelensky, and the subsequent discovery that Trump had asked the Ukraine president to investigate a political rival, led to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announcing an impeachment inquiry into the U.S. president earlier this week.