No one at the Defence Department had listened in to the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said at a Thursday press conference.
According to the DoD spokesman, all relevant Ukraine-related documents would be provided to the Defence Department General Counsel's Office for cataloguing. This, he said, would conclude the Pentagon's own probe into the call. "I'm not aware of any further investigation," he said.
Hoffman emphasised at the briefing that he had asked Secretary of Defence Mark Esper specifically about the conversation, and that Esper confirmed that he was not in on the call.
Earlier this week, a group of Democratic senators wrote to acting Pentagon inspector general Glenn Fine, asking the DoD watchdog to review a delay in military funding to Ukraine ahead of the Trump-Zelensky call, and whether any DoD officials were "involved in any scheme to target a political opponent."
The Democrats have accused the president of withholding military aid to Ukraine as a way to pressure Kiev into restarting an inquiry into Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, over his alleged corrupt dealings with Ukrainian energy company Burisma between 2014 and 2019. This pressure, the Democrats allege, demonstrated an attempt by Trump to engage in 'pay to play' politics to 'get dirt on' Biden, his potential contender in the 2020 presidential election.
The White House has denied any wrongdoing, releasing a five page transcript of the July telephone conversation between Trump and Zelensky in which Trump does not appear to make any direct request for assistance from Zelensky on Biden's son in exchange for US military aid. Republicans have also accused the Democrats of trying to downplay Biden's own alleged corruption, pointing to the firing of Ukrainian Prosecutor Viktor Shokhin, allegedly on Biden's orders, with the vice president allegedly threatening to withhold a $1 billion economic aid package to Kiev in 2016 unless then-President Petro Poroshenko dismissed Shokhin.
In the Zelensky transcript, Trump accuses Biden of publicly "bragging" about having Shokhin fired. In 2018, at an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden recalled how he successfully pressured Poroshenko to have Shokhin sacked.
Trump has accused the Democrats' impeachment inquiry against him as a "coup," and warned, citing comments made by a guest on Fox News, that if his opponents succeeded, it would "cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal."