CBS News: The Trump administration has released the much-anticipated transcript summary of President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, after Mr. Trump authorized publishing the transcript. A memo summarizing the call shows that the president urged Zelensky to probe Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company.
The memorandum released by the Justice Department is not, according to the administration, a verbatim transcript. The text, according to the document released by the administration, is the record of the notes and recollections of the officers and National Security Council policy staff “assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form.”
According to the document, the president said on the call that he would like to find out what happened with “this whole situation with Ukraine” and he said his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani would be traveling to Ukraine. Zelensky said he would meet with Giuliani when he visited.
Zelensky pledged that his new prosecutor would look into the case, and he asked for additional information.
Mr. Trump told Zelensky in the July 25 call that he would have Giuliani give him a call, and also have Attorney General William Barr call to get “to the bottom of it.”
“I will 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,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump asked Zelensky to “do us a favor” and “find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine” with regards to Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity company which helped investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump also asked Zelensky about the Bidens. The president has claimed without offering evidence that Biden, as vice president, had worked to remove a Ukrainian prosecutor specifically because he was investigating a company where Hunter Biden sat on the board of directors. That prosecutor was seen by the U.S. and by many European allies as corrupt.
“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,” Mr. Trump told Zelensky, in reference to Joe Biden.
At the United Nations, Wednesday, Mr. Trump remarked, “I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time.” Until earlier this month, Mr. Trump had temporarily frozen $391 million in aid to Ukraine. Ultimately, the White House released the funds to Ukraine in September, after withholding the aid for about two months.
Mr. Trump, under pressure to release the transcript, had already confirmed he had discussed Biden with Zelensky and confirmed he slow-walked aid to Ukraine, although he claimed the two acts were unrelated. That call and a whistleblower complaint involving Mr. Trump have pushed growing numbers of Democrats to call for impeachment proceedings, which are now formally beginning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday afternoon.
Responding to the release of the memorandum, Mr. Trump told reporters Wednesday that he was subject to “the single greatest witch hunt in American history, probably in history.” Mr. Trump said “there was no pressure whatsoever” put on Zelensky, adding that “it turned out to be a nothing call.” He slammed “fake news” and “corrupt reporting” about the phone call.
In a statement, Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said that the Justice Department had determined that “there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.”
“In August, the Department of Justice was referred a matter relating to a letter the director national intelligence had received from the inspector general for the intelligence community regarding a purported whistleblower complaint. The inspector general’s letter cited a conversation between the president and Ukrainian President Zelensky as a potential violation of federal campaign finance law, while acknowledging that neither the inspector general nor the complainant had firsthand knowledge of the conversation,” Kupec said.
“Relying on established procedures set forth in the justice manual, the department’s criminal division reviewed the official record of the call and determined based on the facts and applicable law that there was no campaign finance violence and that no further action was warranted. All relevant components of the department agreed with this legal conclusion, and the department has concluded this matter,” Kupec concluded.
In another statement, Kupec said that Barr had not spoken with Mr. Trump about Ukraine investigating Biden, and that the president had not asked Barr to contact Ukraine or Giuliani.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) determined that the complaint needed to have a “connection with the operation of any U.S. Government intelligence activity, and the alleged misconduct does not involve any member of the intelligence community” in order to qualify as an “urgent concern.” The OLC found that since the president is not a member of the intelligence community and that the activity in question did not pertain to any ongoing intelligence matters, that the complaint did not meet the standard of an “urgent concern.”
Mr. Trump said Tuesday the memorandum would reveal it was a “very friendly and totally appropriate call.”
“No pressure and, unlike Joe Biden and his son, NO quid pro quo! This is nothing more than a continuation of the Greatest and most Destructive Witch Hunt of all time!” the president tweeted Tuesday afternoon. He suggested the next day that Democrats should apologize after seeing what was said on the call.
“They should, a perfect call – got them by surprise!” he tweeted Wednesday before its release.
Mr. Trump had previously said he hoped the public would see the transcript, but he feared the precedent it might set for other world leaders who want to keep their conversations with him private.
Biden, who called for the release of the transcript, insisted Tuesday Mr. Trump should be impeached if he continues to stonewall Congress.
“If the president doesn’t comply with such a request from the Congress, he continues to obstruct Congress and flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress in my view no choice but to initiate impeachment,” Biden said in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon. “That would be a tragedy but a tragedy of his own making.”
But Democrats still aren’t satisfied. That phone call is just one part of a whistleblower complaint Democrats want to see. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted Tuesday that the whistleblower wants to testify before his committee.