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.”
The White House released the document after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday afternoon. The House is looking at whether Trump abused his powers of office to get dirt on a political rival.
The transcript indicates that Zelensky was eager to please Trump. He told the president that he had learned election strategies from Trump’s campaign, and said that he was trying to “drain the swamp” in Ukraine. Zelensky also said that when he visited New York, he stayed at Trump Tower.
Zelensky broached the subject of U.S. military support in its ongoing conflict with Russia, saying Ukraine was “almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.”
At that point in the call, Trump changed the subject and asked for a “favor.” He mentioned CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that was hired to investigate the Democratic National Committee email hack. “The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Trump said, before asking him to talk to Attorney General William Barr to “get to the bottom of it.”
Zelensky offered to cooperate, and mentioned that one of his aides had already been in touch with Rudolph Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. Trump then praised Giuliani, and suggested that Zelensky speak directly with him and with Barr. He then turned to “the other thing” — the allegations involving the Bidens.
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.
Zelensky told the president he was aware of the issue and would appoint a prosecutor general, who would look into it.
“He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue,” Zelensky said. “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.”
The Washington Post has reported that Trump had ordered his acting chief to staff to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, which had been approved by Congress. The funds were released earlier this month.
Trump has called Democratic inquiries into the matter a “witch hunt.” The White House has emphasized that the transcript does not include an explicit quid pro quo, and has accused the “Deep State” of leaking confidential information to gin up phony allegations against the president.
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.