The details of President Donald Trump’s Ukraine phone call have been made public. The memorandum is five pages long in total, and includes Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
The conversation between the two world leaders took place on July 25, 2019, and was flagged by a whistleblower.
As it says in the document, the apparent conversation is not a verbatim transcript; rather, it’s a “Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation…[that] records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry against the president yesterday. Per The New York Times, she argued that the president’s behavior signified a “betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections.”
In response, Trump called the inquiry a “witchhunt,” and tweeted, among other things, “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”
Here’s what you need to know:
READ: Full Phone Call Transcript Between Trump & Ukraine President
Above is the full phone conversation, as transcribed, between Trump and Zelensky.
On the third page of the transcript, Trump asked Zelensky for a “favor,” and went on to mention Robert Mueller’s investigation.
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 you 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 do, it’s very important you do it if that’s possible.
In response, Zelensky said in part, “I want to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us,” and confirmed at various points that he would launch an investigation.
Trump Asked Zelensky to Look Into an Investigation on Joe Biden’s Son, Hunter
On the fourth page of the transcript, Trump asks Zelensky to look into an investigation on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Trump said, “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 confirmed his new Attorney General “would look into the situation.”
There’s been a lot of confusion over why Biden and his son are involved in this conversation at all.
Biden visited the Ukraine on a number of occasions in 2014 during the Obama administration; during that time, his son began paid work on a board for a private gas company in Ukraine. Trump has suggested there was illegal behavior, and as NPR notes, there were questions of a conflict of interest, given Biden’s work as a foreign leader in the country.
For his part, Biden has denied any wrongdoing by himself or his son. He said to media, per NPR, “Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum. And he’s using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me.”
Multiple fact checking reports have confirmed there is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden or his son. Yuriy Lutsenko, a prosecutor general of Ukraine, said to Bloomberg in May, “Hunter Biden did not violate any Ukrainian laws — at least as of now, we do not see any wrongdoing. A company can pay however much it wants to its board.”
He also cleared then-Vice President Biden of any wrongdoing in that same interview.
Many Have Pointed Out That the Phone Call Is Not a Verbatim Transcript
Following the release of the document, the phrase “NOT A TRANSCRIPT” began to trend on Twitter, as people pointed out that the conversation was not guaranteed to be accurate or to carry the full context of the conversation.
National security lawyer Bradley Moss tweeted, “The. Whistleblower. Submitted. A. Complaint. Not. A. Transcript.”
Another pointed out on Twitter, “What are the ellipses???? Not a Transcript!”
Moira Donegan tweeted, “If this hugely damning memo (which is not a transcript, even) is what they’re willingly releasing, imagine what they’re covering up.”
Politicians & Intelligence Officials Respond to Conversation
Following the release of the conversation, many politicians and intelligence officials have responded to the call, some condemning it and others defending it.
House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff said in a press conference, “This is a how a mafia boss talks: ‘Wha have you done for us? We’ve done so much for you, but there’s not much reciprocity. I have favor I want to ask you.’ And what is that favor, of course? The favor is to investigate his political rival. To investigate the Bidens.”