WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House released a memo on Wednesday summarising President Donald Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in July that prompted Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives to start an impeachment inquiry.
In the memo, Trump asks Zelenskiy directly to investigate his political rival, Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Biden’s son’s business dealings, and a Ukraine prosecutor.
The memo is more damning than anticipated, said Adam Schiff, the Democrat who heads the House Intelligence Committee. He called it a “mafia-like shakedown” of a foreign leader.
Republicans said it showed Democrats were wrong to move forward with impeachment. “There was no quid pro quo and nothing to justify the clamour House Democrats caused,” said Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
The memo shows Trump pressured Zelenskiy to look into other issues beyond Biden, while criticising U.S. allies and a former ambassador. Here are six new pieces of information it contains, in order of appearance:
Trump says that the United States is doing much more for Ukraine than European countries, and singles out German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The European Union has given 3.3 billion euros (£2.9 billion) financial assistance to Ukraine, since 2014, the largest to any non-EU country, Reuters reported in July.
“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.”
ZELENSKIY COMMITS TO BUY RAYTHEON-LOCKHEED EQUIPMENT
“I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defence. 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 defence purposes.”
TRUMP ASKS FOR INVESTIGATION OF TECH COMPANY THAT FINGERED RUSSIA
The president asks Zelenskiy to “do us a favour” and investigate CrowdStrike, the American cybersecurity company that investigated the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. CrowdStrike was one of three firms that led U.S. intelligence officials to conclude Russian intelligence had hacked the DNC, former FBI Director James Comey told Congress in January 2017.
Trump says: “I would like you to do us a favour 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.”
In his response, Zelenskiy agrees to the request, saying, “I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the president of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.”
Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, holds no official government position. That means he has not been subject to the U.S. Senate confirmation process like other top presidential advisers. Still, he is mentioned multiple times as a go-to figure in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship.
Zelenskiy indicates his office is in touch with Giuliani early in the call. “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.”
Later, Trump says of Giuliani, “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.”
Then, Trump says twice more he will ask Giuliani and Barr to call, pairing the U.S. attorney general together with his personal lawyer.
Zelenskiy said he stayed at Trump Tower, Trump’s New York apartment building. The building is not a Trump hotel. It is a condominium residence. He indicates that Ukrainian citizens are buying property there.
“I would like to tell you that I also have quite a few·Ukrainian friends that live in the United States,” he says. “Actually last time I travelled 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.”
THE TWO DISCUSS INVESTIGATING A U.S. AMBASSADOR Speaking of Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly removed from her post in May, Trump says: “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 wanted to let you know that.”
Later, Zelenskiy says: “I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich(sic?). It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree·with you 100%.”
Trump responds “Well, she’s going to go through some things,” then says he will have Giuliani “give you a call” with Attorney General Barr to “get to the bottom of it.”
Reporting by Heather Timmons; editing by Anna Driver and Lisa Shumaker