WASHINGTON/KIEV – A session of the UN General Assembly took place in New York. The discussion was not so much about global problems, but rather Donald Trump’s problems. He’s being attacked by the Democrats demanding his impeachment, he “outraged” a young Swedish activist, and shocked Ukraine, threatening to stop helping it. And this was leading up to his meeting with Zelensky.
President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and expressed hope that he “can look into” former Vice President Joe Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor, according to a five-page transcript of the call released by the White House on Wednesday.
“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 tells Zelensky in the July 25 call, The Hill reported.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said.
Biden’s name is mentioned twice during the call, according to the document, which is titled formally as a “memorandum of telephone conversation”. The document makes clear it is not a verbatim transcript of the conversation. The White House released the transcript a day after the House of Democrats formally launched an impeachment inquiry against the president that was triggered by his dealings with Ukraine.
Democrats are concerned that Trump pressured a foreign government to look into a political opponent, and that he may have used US military aide as leverage. The president had vowed to release a transcript of the conversation and said it would make clear that he did nothing wrong, but the pages released by the White House seemed likely to give some arguments to Democrats.
The conversation between Trump and Zelensky also sparked a whistleblower complaint within the administration. Lawmakers have yet to see that complaint. The Justice Department released a statement shortly after the White House released the transcript, saying that Attorney General William Barr, who is also mentioned during the call, was first notified of Trump’s conversation with Zelensky “several weeks” after it took place.
Trump told Zelensky on the call that he would have Barr talk to him. Justice announced it learned of a potential referral to the intelligence community inspector general after the call, and that Trump has not spoken to Barr about having Ukraine investigate “anything related” to Biden or his son.
“The President has not asked the Attorney General to contact Ukraine – on this or any other matter. The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine – on this or any other subject. Nor has the Attorney General discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani,” Department of Justice Spokesperson Kerri Kupec noted.