In What World Was This Supposed to Prove Trump's Innocence?

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One day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Democrats were launching a formal impeachment inquiry into president Donald Trump, the White House on Wednesday released the much sought-after memo describing a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. In it, the president repeatedly pressed Zelensky to pursue an investigation into 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.

“I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time,” Trump told Zelensky at the start of the call, before eventually transitioning with “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

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At the bottom of page three of the five page read-out, Trump gets down to business, encouraging Zelensky to speak with both his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr about the Bidens (emphasis mine):

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.

Trump reiterated his request that Zelensky speak with Giuliani and Barr several more times over the course of the memo, although he did not specifically mention withholding military aid to Ukraine, a tactic he admitted to employing while speaking to the press outside of the United Nations on Tuesday.

The memo is just one part of an as-of-yet unseen whistleblower report on Trump’s actions, which allegedly involves more than just a single phone call. Trump has meanwhile insisted that his call with Zelensky was “perfect,” although if this is what he considers “perfect,” it seems safe to assume there’s much worse stuff coming in the full report.

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You can read the complete memo here.

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About the author

Rafi Schwartz

Senior writer. When in doubt he'll have the soup.