The Justice Department has released a declassified five page transcript of President Trump's July 25, 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, with the transcript published, in PDF form, on the White House's website.
In the transcript, Trump asks Zelensky if he could "do us a favour" and allow Ukrainian officials to cooperate with the US attorney general to investigate Crowdstrike, the company hired to investigate the hack of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election, whose server Trump said Ukraine has access to.
After Zelensky agrees, Trump turns to the case of Viktor Shokin, a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating the Burisma energy company, who was sacked in 2016 while probing whether or not then-Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden had engaged in any illegal activity with Burisma in Ukraine while serving on the company's board of directors.
"I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved," Trump says.
"The other thing, there's a lot of talk about [former Vice President Joe] 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," Trump says.
Zelensky promises that the prosecutor he chose would "look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this case. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case," he says.
Significantly, Trump appears to make no mention of US military or economic aid to Ukraine. This challenges claims made by the Democrats, who initiated an impeachment inquiry against Trump on Tuesday, and alleged that he may have ordered the freezing of some $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine in the days before the Zelensky phone call, supposedly to pressure the new president to cooperate on the Biden inquiry.
Zelensky does bring up US military aid, but only to thank Trump. "I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defence. 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 defence purposes," Ukraine's president says.
Trump Demands Apology
After the transcript was released, Trump took to Twitter to ask if the Democrats would "apologise" to him "after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President."
Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President? They should, a perfect call - got them by surprise!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2019
"They should," Trump suggested, saying it was a "perfect call!" and complaining that there "has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated as badly as I have."
There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have. The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear. They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen to another President. Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2019
Trump reiterated his "witch hunt" claims later Wednesday, telling the New York Times that the impeachment inquiry against him was "a disgraceful thing."
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had announced the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump over the Zelensky phone call, said the transcript of the call had "confirmed" that Trump's behaviour had 'undermined' the integrity of US elections and national security.
"The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behaviour that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad," a statement put out by Pelosi's office said.
Pelosi's statement reiterated the Democrats' complaint accusing Trump of using "taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign," saying this was "not part of his job."
"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. Clearly, the Congress must act," the statement said.
NANCY PELOSI statement:— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) September 25, 2019
“The President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad." pic.twitter.com/jFatU2VI4G
Earlier, Pelosi tweeted a short clip in which she said that a president asking foreign governments to "investigate a political opponent" (in this case Joe Biden) was "not right."
No. You *don't* ask foreign governments for help in our elections. That *is not* right. pic.twitter.com/gduXHWDNkK— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) September 25, 2019
Later in the day, Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Democratic Representative and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, Democratic House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, and Democratic Congressman and House Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Eliot Engel released a joint statement saying that the Trump Zelensky transcript was "an unambiguous, damning and shocking abuse of the Office of the Presidency for personal political gain."
Nadler/Schiff/Cummings/Engel statement on the release of the Trump/Ukraine call: "The transcript is an unambiguous, damning, and shocking abuse of the Office of the Presidency for personal political gain." pic.twitter.com/gulQm71Vpp— Johnny Verhovek (@JTHVerhovek) September 25, 2019
In a tweet, Nadler demanded that Attorney General Barr recuse himself of any Ukraine-related investigations (presumably including one into the activities of Biden's son) given the contents of the call.