President Donald Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in a July 25 phone call, the transcript of the conversation, released by the White House, shows.
Trump told Zelensky that he would instruct his Attorney General William Barr to help in a potential investigation, the five-page memorandum also shows.
“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 told the Ukrainian leader during the call. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it, It sounds horrible to me.”
The rough transcript of the call further reveals that prior to asking Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, Trump pointed out that the United States sends security aid to Ukraine, which at that time had been put on hold on Trump’s request.
“I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time,” Trump stressed, underlining also how much more the U.S. does for Ukraine compared to European countries.
The call has prompted Democrats in the House to ramp up calls for an impeachment inquiry, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally announced late Tuesday.
“The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said in a statement. ”Clearly, the Congress must act.”
She added that President Trump’s actions betray his oath of office and U.S. national security, as well as the “integrity of our elections.”
The Justice Department has sought to assure the public that the call did not constitute a campaign finance violation, but Democrats seem unconvinced, raising questions as to why Trump ordered that hundreds of millions of dollars in Ukraine aid be withheld without an apparent reason and whether he tried to use that aid as leverage to get Zelensky to investigate.
House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., deemed the call a “classic mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader,” CNBC reports.
The outlet also writes that during the call, Zelensky agreed to appoint a new prosecutor to “look into the situation.” Trump then responded that he will direct his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to call the Ukrainian president.