The White House on Wednesday released a transcript of President Donald Trump's phone conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. This phone call became a major point of contention after a "whistleblower" from within the U.S. government reported that Trump had asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been a frontrunner for most of the Democratic presidential primary polls including at the time this call occurred.
This phone call took place on the morning of July 25.
What's the background?
Hunter Biden was paid $50,000 a month to sit on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas firm. Biden would later openly admit that while he was vice president he had asked the then-president of Ukraine to fire a corrupt prosecutor. This prosecutor happened to concern the oligarch who owned Burisma. The replacement prosecutor shut down an investigation into Burisma within a year of taking over.
According to the anonymous government whistleblower, Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden. Trump had put a hold on military aid to Ukraine worth $400 million the day before the phone call. Because of this, there here were accusations from Democrats and members of the news media that he may pushed for the investigation by threatening to withhold aid to Ukraine.
These rumors were enough to convince more Democrats, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), to support impeaching the president.
What did the transcript say?
In the transcript, toward the middle of the phone conversation, Trump asked Zelensky if he would "do us a favor."
At no point during this conversation did Trump state to Zelensky that there would be any sort of quid pro quo for this favor.
Zelensky responded that one of his assistants had spoken "with Mr. [Rudy] Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine." He also discussed recalling and replacing the U.S. ambassador to the United States.
"I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us," Zelensky added.
Then Trump moved on to the topic that caused the recent controversy:
Good because 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. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, 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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you ·can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.
Zelensky responded that he was planning on adding one of his own prosecutors "since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament." He added that this new prosecutor would "be 100% my person, my candidate" and that they would "look into this situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue."
Trump replied that he would "have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it."
"I'm sure you will figure it out," Trump continued. "I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot of assets. It's a great country."