Prior to releasing the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian president, President Donald Trump commented several times on the content of the transcript. Now that it’s out, how do these statements measure up?
The White House released the un-redacted transcript after Democrats pushed for impeachment against the president, claiming that he threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine until the country launched an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump previously admitted that he asked for an investigation into Biden, but denied that he dangled military aid in a quid pro quo arrangement. (RELATED: Trump Will Release Transcript Of Disputed Ukraine Call)
Here are the following public statements Trump made about the call, and whether or not they were confirmed by the transcript:
On Asking For Investigation Of Biden: “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption—all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to [sic] the corruption already in the Ukraine.”
The transcript of the call confirms that Trump asked Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky multiple times to investigate why Biden pressured Ukraine into firing a prosecutor that was looking into his son’s business ties. Hunter Biden sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian oil company, and was receiving $50,000 a month when the prosecutor was fired. Biden bragged about withholding a $1 billion loan from Ukraine until they agreed to oust the prosecutor, but Ukraine has previously said there isn’t evidence that he did so to protect the business paying his son.
Trump said on the call, “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.”
The call also revealed that the situation was first brought up by Zelensky with his mention of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who had previously traveled to Ukraine to look into Biden’s dealings.
“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,” Zelensky said.
On A Quid Pro Quo Arrangement: “I did not make a statement that you have to do this or I won’t give you aid.”
Nowhere in the transcript does the president mention withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Zelensky, and not in the context of investigating Biden. Early in the call, Trump does signal that the “United States has been very good to Ukraine” in terms of providing aid.
In what Democrats are citing as proof of a “quid pro quo” arrangement, Zelenksy brings up that the Ukraine would like to purchase more U.S. military equipment, and Trump responds by asking for an investigation into 2016 election meddling.
“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,” Zelensky says.
Trump replies, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” and proceeds to ask Zelensky if he will investigate the private security firm Crowdstrike and other allegations that Ukraine may have been involved in election meddling. The “favor” does not appear to be connected to the Biden investigation as previously claimed.
On Withholding Military Aid From Ukraine: “My complaint has always been, and I’d withhold again, and I will continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine”
Trump claimed on Tuesday that he withheld military aid from Ukraine because he wanted to pressure other European countries into paying their fair share. During the call, the president did indeed bring up other countries’ lack of support for Ukraine in the context of U.S. aid.
“We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time,” Trump said. “Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you.”