- Notes of a phone call President Donald Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appear to confirm that Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son after discussing military aid to Ukraine.
- Zelensky thanked Trump for “your great support in the area of defence. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically, we’re almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defence purposes.”
- Trump then asked Zelensky to do him a “favour” and help discredit the Russia investigation. He went on to ask Zelensky to work with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr to investigate the Bidens.
- “If you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said.
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Notes from a phone call that President Donald Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25 confirm reports that Trump repeatedly pressed Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden after discussing military aid to Ukraine.
Biden’s son, Hunter, sat on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas-extraction company, from 2014 to early this year. Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, accused the elder Biden of trying to stymie a criminal investigation into Burisma in 2016 by pushing the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor general leading the inquiry.
While Biden did seek the prosecutor’s removal, those accusations are unsubstantiated, with government officials and Ukrainian anticorruption advocates in fact saying that Shokin had hampered the investigation into Burisma long before Biden had entered the picture, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Trump had ordered the US to withhold a nearly $US400 million military-aid package to Ukraine days before the phone call. The US president made no direct mention of offering aid in exchange for Zelensky’s assistance in probing Biden, but be brought up how the US does “a lot for Ukraine” right before asking Zelensky for a favour.
Early in the July 25 call, Trump reminded Zelensky that “we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing.”
Zelensky agreed, telling Trump he was “absolutely right.” He added, “The European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union … the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine.”
Zelensky went on to thank Trump for “your great support in the area of defence. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically, we’re almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defence purposes.”
Trump then responded, “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 … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it.”
The US president was referring to the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, which the Democratic National Committee hired to respond to Russia’s breach of its servers during the 2016 election. Trump’s reference to “the server” relates to an unfounded conspiracy theory that the DNC hid an incriminating server from the FBI while the bureau was investigating Russia’s hack, and that the server contains information about who was really responsible.
Trump’s discussion of the server and Crowdstrike with Zelensky shows his continued reluctance to accept the US intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to propel him to the presidency.
“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, according to the notes. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”
He then pivoted to discussing Biden: “There’s a lot of talk about [former vice president Joe 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.”
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