Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for not just one favor, but three, according to a rough transcript of a July phone call between the two released Wednesday morning by the White House.
In the memo, which was compiled by officials who listened to the call and is not a verbatim transcript, Trump asks his Ukrainian counterpart to “look into” his political rival and former Vice President Joe Biden.
He also asked Zelensky several times to speak with U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, as well as Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer.
The transcript’s release comes less than a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will launch an impeachment investigation against Trump over the question of whether he solicited a politically-helpful investigation from a foreign power.
The memo, which Trump himself authorized for release, shows that the president kicked off his call with Zelensky by emphasizing how much support the U.S. gives Ukraine.
“I will say 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 and they should be helping you more than they are,” Trump said.
“The United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union,” Zelensky replied. “I'm very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine.”
(Trump also reportedly withheld nearly $400 million in foreign aid to Ukraine this summer, though he denies that he used the money as leverage to encourage Zelensky to pursue an investigation into Biden.)
After establishing how much aid the U.S. gives to Ukraine, Trump then makes his several asks.
1. He asks Zelensky to "look into" Joe Biden
Most notably, Trump asks Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who has worked on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
“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,” Trump added.
Trump and Giuliani have both argued, without offering any proof, that the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate used his office to squash an investigation of the Ukrainian company where his son served as a paid board member.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said.
There is no evidence that either Biden engaged in corrupt activity.
2. He asked Zelensky to speak to Rudy Guiliani and Bill Barr
Trump then asked Zelensky to speak with Rudy Giuliani — his personal attorney, who is not a government official — as well as Attorney General Bill Barr.
“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,” Trump said.
“Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great,” Trump continued. “The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
The DOJ released a statement distancing Barr from the situation, and asserting he never spoke to Trump about Ukraine investigating the Bidens.
“The President has not spoken with the Attorney General about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said. “The Attorney General has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject.”
On the call, Zelensky thanked Trump for American military aid, and raised the prospect of buying more Javelin anti-tank missiles.
“I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense,” Zelensky was quoted as saying. “We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
3. He oddly asked Zelensky to investigate Crowdstrike
Trump also made a puzzling request for help investigating something to do with the Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, although his incomplete sentences make it hard to know exactly what he meant.
“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,” Trump told Zelensky.
“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,” Trump continued.
“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.”
The Democratic National Committee hired Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm, to investigate the hack of the DNC’s emails that occurred during the 2016 election.
Trump has long pushed a conspiracy theory that the FBI worked with the DNC to obscure or fabricate the outcome of that investigation, despite the fact that the intelligence community is in unanimous agreement that Russians conducted the hack.
He then urged Zelensky to act with expediency because of the Congressional testimony delivered the previous day by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“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,” Trump said.
Cover: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)