United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday released the transcript of a July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he asked Zelenskiy to contact Attorney General William Barr about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, The Washington Post reported.
“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,” Trump said according to the transcript of the call. However, the US president had denied saying anything inappropriate on the call. Joe Biden is a contender for the Democratic candidate in the upcoming US presidential election.
The release of the transcript came following a whistleblower’s complaint to Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon. The transcript showed that Trump repeatedly pushed Zelenskiy to investigate Biden and his son Hunter, CNN reported. The transcript, however, did not reveal any wrongdoing on the part of either Joe Biden or Hunter Biden.
Trump released aid to Ukraine in September, after withholding it for about two months. This sparked speculation that he had withheld the money to put more pressure on the Ukraine president.
Before releasing the transcript, Trump claimed that the Democratic Party was on a witch hunt, and that his call to the Ukrainian president was a “very friendly and totally appropriate call”. “I am currently at the United Nations representing our Country, but have authorized the release tomorrow of the complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine,” Trump said. “You will see 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!”
Jay Sekulow, an attorney for Trump, also told CNN that there was no “quid pro quo” during the call. “On the issue of what we have on the transcript, I think it is important to understand we do not have a quid pro quo,” Sekulow said. “In other words, I will do this, you do this. That is absent.”
In a press conference following the release of the transcript, Trump denied that he tried to pressure Ukraine’s president “to do things that they wanted under the form of political threat”. He said he did not threaten anyone.
The whistleblower has tentatively agreed to meet Congressional lawmakers, but will not be appearing before the US Congress. The person’s identity and his role in the US government has not been revealed to the legislators.
On Tuesday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced a formal impeachment inquiry against Trump. “Today, I am announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” Pelosi said at Capitol Hill. “The president must be held accountable. No one is above the law. Actions taken to date by the president have seriously violated the Constitution.”
Pelosi’s announcement of an impeachment investigation has been backed by several House Democrats, CNN reported. Senator Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Trump, also favoured impeachment. “The president of the United States has betrayed our country,” she tweeted. “That’s not a political statement – it’s a harsh reality, and we must act. He is a clear and present danger to the things that keep us strong and free. I support impeachment.”
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