Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky complained that he had given no approval to publish the transcript of his conversation with US President Donald Trump. He further described his conversation as ‘confidential’. Despite this, the White House publsihed the text howing the Ukrainian leader his real place in the world politics.
On September 25th, the White House released a memo providing the conversation between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that took place over the phone on July 25th.
The entire memo can be found here.
The first thing that becomes apparent is that it’s not a transcript. It is a “memorandum of telephone conversation” kept by notetakers in the White House situation room.
A note on the document itself states: “A memorandum of a telephone conversation (Telcon) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion” and warns “a number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record.”
There is an ellipsis that raises questions. Precisely when Trump mentions Biden, there is a part missing after he asks Zelensky if he can “look into it.”
Critical question about this more-or-less transcript of the call: There's one place where there's an ellipsis — and it's in crucial part of the conversation. Is this meant to indicate that something was omitted? Or that Trump's previous thought simply trailed off? pic.twitter.com/MlA3pFS6pR
— Gregory Korte (@gregorykorte) September 25, 2019
Trump did ask for data on Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The US President said that Zelensky would receive calls from his attorney Rudy Giuliani. However, no ‘pressure’ previously mentioned by mainstream media can be found in the text.
“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,” Trump said, “so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.”
Zelenskiy responded: “I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation.”
Trump then said the following:
Trump: 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.
Significantly, Trump did tie his request with providing US aid to Ukraine, which directly implicates him in a lie, and something that he, his aides and the Ukrainian side vehemently denied. He didn’t specifically say that he would block the military aid, but it does appear like it.
“The United States has been very, very good to Ukraine,” Trump said. “I wouldn’t say it’s reciprocal necessarily …”
Zelensky, in answer said that Ukraine would like to buy more Javelin missiles, but Trump alludes to something else:
“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.”
The exchange was the following:
“Trump: I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are … so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.
Zelenskiy: I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
Trump: 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.”
The summary also presents past and future coordination between Trump and the Zelensky team.
“Zelenskiy: I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr 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. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us.”
“Trump: 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. 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. I have many Ukrainian friends, they’re incredible people.”
“Trump: I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call. Thank you. Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we’ll work that out. I look forward to seeing you.”
Finally, as it was quite apparent for a while, Trump cares very little about Ukraine and Ukrainian interests. The conversation is another confirmation of this fact.
Another point was CrowdStrike, hired by Democratic National Committee (DNC) during the last election to analyze an infiltration of DNC email networks. He asked if the CrowdStrike servers are in Ukraine.
“Trump: 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. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say CrowdStrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.”
“Zelenskiy: Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government … You are a great teacher for us and in that.”
“Zelenskiy: Actually last time I traveled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower. I will talk to them and I hope to see them again in the future. I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington DC. On the other hand, I also want to assure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation.”
Zelensky was applying the tried and true formula of flattering Trump until he agrees to fulfill a request. The summary of the conversation is quite limited, and US Congress asked for the whistleblower complaint to also be unclassified.
On September 25th, the whistleblower complaint from an unidentified member of the intelligence community regarding Trump’s communications with Ukraine. It was called “deeply disturbing” and “very credible.” Both the Republicans and Democrats called for it to be made public.
BREAKING NEWS: The whistleblower complaint has been declassified. I encourage you all to read it.
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) September 26, 2019
Christ Stewart, a Republican, said that after reviewing the complaint he said it didn’t warrant Trump’s impeachment.
As of 10 AM GMT on September 26th, the complaint hasn’t yet been released to the public, but has been declassified.
Senator Chuck Schumer called for the complaint to be immediately released to the public so that everybody could read it.
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 25, 2019
Trump himself gave a solo press conference in New York, and he specifically called attention to a CNN report from May 2019, which described how Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez, Dick Durbin, and Patrick Leahy pushed Ukraine’s top prosecutor not to close four investigations perceived as critical to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and made it appear as if US aid to Ukraine was at stake.
“The Democrats have done what they’re accusing me of doing,” Trump said.
The Democratic senators wrote in a letter to Ukraine’s leader at the time:
“In four short years, Ukraine has made significant progress in building [democratic] institutions despite ongoing military, economic, and political pressure from Moscow. We have supported [the] capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these [democratic] principles to avoid the ire of President Trump.”
“Senator Chris Murphy literally threatened the president of Ukraine that if he doesn’t do things right, they won’t have Democrat support in Congress,” Trump added.
This was referring to a report by the Hill:
“I told Zelensky that he should not insert himself or his government into American politics,” Murphy said, according to The Hill. “I cautioned him that complying with the demands of the President’s campaign representatives to investigate a political rival of the President would gravely damage the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. There are few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on in Washington these days, and support for Ukraine is one of them.”
He finished his press conference by saying that Nancy Pelosi was no longer Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Prior to the solo press conference, Trump and Zelensky met and sat at an awkward press conference for approximately 15 minutes.
Asked directly if he felt any pressure from Trump to investigate Biden, Zelensky hedged. “I think you read everything. I think you read text,” he said. “I — I’m sorry, I don’t want to be involved in Democratic, open, elections — elections of U.S.A. No, you heard. We had I think good phone call. It was normal. We spoke about many things. So, I think, and you read it, that nobody pushed. Pushed me.”
Trump then added: “In other words: no pressure.”
Later, he was asked if he wanted Zelensky to start an investigation into Biden, he alleged the following:
“I want him to do whatever he can,” Trump said of Zelensky. “Biden’s son walks out of Ukraine with millions and millions of dollars,” Trump said. “I think it’s a horrible thing, a horrible thing.”
During the conversation, Trump also urged Zelensky that he should resolve things with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump commended Zelensky for making “a lot of progress with Russia,” adding, it “would be nice to end that whole disaster.”
Look of existential terror descends over Zelensky's face as Trump responds to question about military aid with suggestion that Zelensky work things out with Putin. pic.twitter.com/XmsyMi3cbj
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 25, 2019
Essentially, Zelensky, due to his non-existent political experience has landed himself in the hottest of waters and now has no way to come out unscathed, with the scandal promising to get much worse, before fading into oblivion.
Probably, one of the main concerns of Zelenksy is that in a fierce attempt to please Trump he mocked EU leaders:
TRUMP: Well it’s very nice of you to say that. I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.
ZELENSKY: Yes you are absolutely right. Not only. 100%, but actually 1000% and I can tell you the following; I did talk to Angela Merkel and I did meet with her. I also met and talked with Macron and I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions. They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine. It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I’m very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine. Much more than the European Union especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation. I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
It’s interesting how Zelensky would explain this behaviour to Germany and France.
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