President Donald Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden during a July 25 phone call, according to a transcript released by the White House on Wednesday.
“There’s a lot 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 said. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. It sounds horrible to me.”
After Zelensky agreed to cooperate, Trump extended an invitation to the White House. In the version of the transcript, there does not appear to be any explicit quid pro quo, in which the president offers financial assistance in exchange for a political favor. However, Trump does remind Zelensky that the U.S. has been “very, very good” to Ukraine.
He asks Zelensky to be in touch with his personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, as well as with Attorney General Bill Barr.
“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you call and I’m also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom if it,” Trump says. “I’m sure you will figure it out.”
Trump and Giuliani accuse Biden of putting pressure on Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden was a board member of the company.
Trump begins the talk by congratulating Zelensky on his recent election. At one point in the call, Zelensky is heard telling the president, who controls a real estate empire, that he stayed in one of his properties during a recent visit. Democrats have accused the Trump family of using their office to enrich themselves.
“Actually last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower,” he says.
The rough transcript was released after the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives announced it was launching an impeachment inquiry. Trump is accused of urging Zelensky to investigate the Biden family’s dealings in the country, while withholding nearly $400 million in military aid. Trump has called Democratic inquiries into the matter a “witch hunt,” but has admitted to discussing Biden as part of a larger discussion of “corruption” in that July 25 phone call. Nowhere in the transcript does Trump bring up the issue of withholding aid, a fact his defenders will likely seize upon as they mount a defense.
As the controversy surrounding their interactions mounts, Trump is also scheduled to meet with Zelensky at the United Nations this afternoon.
The White House cautioned that the transcript relied on voice recognition software and is not a “verbatim” account of the discussion.
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