Takeaways from the rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine
President Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate unfounded corruption allegations against political rival Joe Biden, according to a rough transcript of the phone call at the center of accusations that the president pressured a foreign leader as he held up aid.
“I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump said in response to Zelensky raising the prospect of acquiring military equipment from the United States.
Those statements and others in the July 25 phone call between Trump and Zelensky reflected a possible violation of campaign finance law to the intelligence community inspector general. Officials referred the matter to the Justice Department in late August, but prosecutors last week concluded that the conduct was not criminal.
“We know from our reporting that the president before this call had directed his budget director and his acting chief of staff to freeze military aid to Ukraine,” says intelligence reporter Shane Harris. “He does not specifically say to Zelensky in this call, ‘Unless you investigate these people, I won’t give you the aid,’ but the context of that is all over this call.”
The whistleblower complaint that unearthed the call has rocked the White House and prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to initiate an impeachment inquiry against Trump.
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‘Freelancing in a very nakedly political way’
President Trump’s attempt to leverage information about former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter from the president of Ukraine followed a months-long battle inside the administration — one that sidelined national security leaders and empowered political loyalists such as the president’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, say current and former U.S. officials.
“Giuliani, more than a year ago, began fixating on Ukraine and trying to insert himself into the U.S. relationship with that country,” says intelligence reporter Greg Miller.
Giuliani was a key player in the escalating political conflict over Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, pushing for the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and seizing an unofficial diplomatic role for himself. Earlier this year, the former New York City mayor even planned to travel to Ukraine to push for investigations that could benefit Trump.
“What he’s not doing is advancing the interests of the United States,” Miller says. “He’s not negotiating things that are consistent with American foreign policy objectives in the region. He is freelancing in a very nakedly political way.”
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Scout leaders make their case for recruitment
With the start of a new school year, Boy Scout leaders have been tasked with safeguarding the future of their organization.
But looming over the Boy Scouts are sexual abuse lawsuits that threaten to tarnish the organization’s image, reports of potential bankruptcy and a sometimes alienating struggle to define what it means to be a Scout today. The scandals make it that much more difficult for leaders to recruit as numbers decline, says reporter Samantha Schmidt, who attended a back-to-school recruitment night.
Politics reporter Aaron Blake explains House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, bringing an end to an extended debate within the Democratic Party.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Shane Harris takes us through the newly released whistleblower complaint. Juliet Eilperin on the conflicted attitudes of oil and gas executives toward climate change. And Laura Reiley digs into the religious debates behind plant-based meat and shrimp.
Thursday, September 26, 2019