During a “press marathon” on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the topic of his famous July 25 phone call with President Trump, including one of the “favors” Trump mentioned: to look into “the whole situation” of Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.
“Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country,” Politico‘s Kenneth Vogel and David Stern wrote in a January 2017 report that has since been cited by multiple administration officials. “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.”
During his call with Zelensky, Trump asked for a “favor” that included looking into “this whole situation with Ukraine” in 2016, including the role played by Ukrainian-based cybersecurity company Crowdstrike, which the Democratic National Committee used to review the hacking of its emails.
“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 told Zelensky. “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. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”
While The Washington Post says that “evidence so far indicates there is nothing that took place in Ukraine that even begins to compare to the Russian intervention in the 2016 election” and slams Republicans’ Crowdstrike suspicions as a “crazy stuff,” the Trump administration and some Republican congressmen, including Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), believe there’s more there than the media would like to admit.
During his “press marathon” Thursday, Zelensky announced that his government is “ready to investigate Ukraine’s alleged meddling in the U.S. elections,” referencing the 2016 election, Eastern Europe Correspondent Christopher Miller reported Thursday in a series of tweets issued during the press conference.
Zelensky also addressed his new attorney general that will be heading up future investigations.
“This is a new, young team, we’ll have a new attorney general, an open, honest person, 100%. This is my man, I said. I meant it was a person from my team, not from the old attorney general’s,” he said.
Asked by Miller about Ukraine’s potential meddling in the next election, Zelensky told him, “I don’t want to interfere in any way in the U.S. elections and I will not be doing it… Elect your own president and do not interfere in the future elections of an independent Ukraine. With due respect for the United States and America’s policy, we are not serving the latter’s purpose, as we are an independent country. However, we do not want to lose our relations, we wish to strengthen them instead.”
Zelensky also once again confirmed that he did not even know about the U.S. withholding military aid until after the phone call with Trump, undermining the Democrats’ claim that Trump was using the aid as “pressure” to force Ukraine to “dig up dirt” on Joe Biden.
Intense few minutes earlier. Kateryna Nozdrovska, mother of murdered Ukrainian lawyer Iryna Nozdrovska, shouts at Zelenskiy. Prez came to the rail to speak with her, promised his office will follow up. More about the case here, in longread from last year: https://t.co/VpO9IhRmPa pic.twitter.com/xvzvJSX9C0
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) October 10, 2019
Trump has since responded to Zelensky’s statements Thursday as more evidence that the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is a “scam.”
“The President of the Ukraine just stated again, in the strongest of language, that President Trump applied no pressure and did absolutely nothing wrong,” Trump tweeted. “He used the strongest language possible. That should end this Democrat Scam, but it won’t, because the Dems & Media are FIXED!”
The President of the Ukraine just stated again, in the strongest of language, that President Trump applied no pressure and did absolutely nothing wrong. He used the strongest language possible. That should end this Democrat Scam, but it won’t, because the Dems & Media are FIXED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2019
Below is the much-analyzed section of the transcript of the July 25 call in which Trump asked for the favor to the look into Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election and alleged corruption involving the Bidens:
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. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.
Zelensky: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. 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. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. 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.. That I can assure you.
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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.
Zelensky: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all, I understand and I’m knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, 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. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.
Trump: Well, she’s going to go through some things. 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, their incredible people.