Trump Asked Ukraine President for Biden Probe, Memo Shows

WASHINGTON (CN) – Facing a newly launched impeachment inquiry in Congress, President Donald Trump’s administration released a call record Wednesday showing he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch an investigation tied to his potential 2020 election opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump reportedly said before criticizing former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is inaugurated in Kiev on May 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The president added, “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.”

The five-page memo recounting the call – which is said to be at the heart of the fight over a secretive intelligence community whistleblower complaint seen as the impetus for a majority of House Democrats changing their minds to support impeaching Trump – was released Wednesday morning, a day after Trump called for its release on Twitter.

The president is accused of pressuring Zelensky during the July phone call to investigate alleged misconduct of Hunter Biden regarding work he did for a Ukrainian energy company. However, a Ukrainian official earlier this year said there was no evidence of wrongdoing by the former vice president or his son.

According to the call record, Zelensky said he’s “knowledgeable” about the situation and his next prosecutor will be “100% my person, my candidate.”

“He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue,” he said.

The Ukrainian leader then asked for any additional information from Trump to help in the investigation.

“I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General [William] Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it,” the president responded, referring to his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. “I’m sure you will figure it out.”

While Trump pledged Wednesday to release a “fully declassified and unredacted transcript” of the call, some have pointed to the use of the term “memorandum” atop the document. The difference is that a memo is not a verbatim transcript but rather the notes of staffers tasked with listening and recording the conversation in written form as it took place.

Trump took to his favorite social media platform Wednesday morning to tout the release of the document.

“Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian president?” he tweeted. “They should, a perfect call – got them by surprise!”

Leading Republicans are already working to downplay the exchange, with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina calling the call record a “nothing (non-quid pro quo) burger.”

“Democrats have lost their minds when it comes to President @realDonaldTrump,” the senator tweeted.

Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York reportedly said Wednesday morning that lawmakers must get an unredacted version of the whistleblower complaint. A member of the House Judiciary Committee, the congressman said he wants to look into military aid money promised to Ukraine that the president “apparently held that up – while Ukraine is at war with Russia – to get dirt on Biden.”

According to the memo, Zelensky also told Trump of a recent visit to New York City which included a trip to Central Park and a stay at Trump Tower. He went on to suggest the two countries could find more opportunities to work together, including buying more U.S. oil.

“Well, thank you very much and I appreciate that,” Trump replied.

Trump’s continued involvement in his private business enterprises, including his hotels, have been the heart of legal challenges alleging violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit the president from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

Lawsuits targeting this alleged conflict of interest are ongoing and have seen mixed results with courts around the country.

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