Memo: Trump prodded Ukraine leader on Biden claims

President Donald Trump repeatedly encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to a memorandum about a July phone call between the two leaders released by the White House Wednesday morning. The memo is not verbatim.

While there is no explicit mention of the withheld aid money during the July 25 phone call, President Trump invoked the country’s financial fortunes after saying “we will get to the bottom of it.”

“Your economy is going to get better and better I predict,” Trump told Zelensky. “You have a lot of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.”

The conversation between Trump and Zelensky occurred just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill – a fact Trump clearly had on top of his mind.

“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,” Trump said. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”

In response, Zelensky Offered support, telling Trump, “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.”

“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 is said to have told Zelensky. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”

PHOTO: Ukraines President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, and President Donald Trump, right.
AFP/Getty Images
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, and President Donald Trump, right.

While President Trump invoked Biden’s name, it was Zelensky who brought Giuliani into the conversation. Trump later said, “Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.”

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden exits after making remarks about the DNI Whistleblower Report as well as President Trumps ongoing abuse of power at the Hotel DuPont on Sept. 24, 2019 in Wilmington, Del.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden exits after making remarks about the DNI Whistleblower Report as well as President Trumps ongoing abuse of power at the Hotel DuPont on Sept. 24, 2019 in Wilmington, Del.more +

Zelensky assured Trump that his new prosecutor general “will look into the situation.”

The memo released by the White House includes this cautionary language: CAUTION: A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place….”

The crux of the debate surrounding Joe Biden’s conduct in Ukraine refers back to the dismissal of the country’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, in 2016. At the time, Biden was leading U.S. policy toward Ukraine with an emphasis on cracking down on corruption, and called for Shokin to be fired.

PHOTO: Rudy Giuliani speaks at an event outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 24, 2019.
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani speaks at an event outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 24, 2019.

Giuliani and Trump have accused Biden of calling for his dismissal because his office was investigating Burisma, where Biden’s son, Hunter, had a seat on the board of directors.

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General William Barr participates in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 9, 2019.
Erin Scott/Reuters
U.S. Attorney General William Barr participates in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 9, 2019.

But the assertion that Biden acted to help his son has been undercut by widespread criticism of Shokin from several high-profile international leaders, including members of the European Union and International Monetary Fund, who said Biden’s recommendation was well justified.

Democrats have accused President Trump of using his desire for an investigation into the Bidens as leverage with Zelensky, particularly in light of the fact that the White House had, at the time, withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, which was later released.

While there is no explicit mention of the withheld aid money during the July 25 phone call, President Trump invoked the country’s financial fortunes after saying “we will get to the bottom of it.”

“Your economy is going to get better and better I predict,” Trump told Zelensky. “You have a lot of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.”

The conversation between Trump and Zelensky occurred just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill – a fact Trump clearly had on top of his mind.

“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,” Trump said. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”

In response, Zelensky offered support, telling Trump, “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.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com