Trump asked Zelensky in a July phone call to work with Giuliani on an investigation into largely discredited allegations against Joe Biden, a frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son, according to a rough transcript of the call released last week.
The messages also reveal concerns by a top US diplomat in Ukraine that Mr. Trump was seeking to use a hold on almost $400 million in USA aid to Ukraine-which the president imposed a week before his July call with his Ukrainian counterpart-for political purposes.
That call has triggered an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump sought personal political gain by pushing for a foreign investigation into one of his main political rivals.
"This is about corruption", Trump insisted, speaking to reporters at the White House.
Trump and Pompeo acknowledged on Wednesday that Pompeo was on the call with Zelenskiy but didn't detail how much else he knew or whether the secretary of state found anything objectionable.
[9/1/19, 12:08:57 PM] Bill Taylor: Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations? It does "not want to be involved or seen involved in the USA presidential elections", said Jeffrey Bader, a former special assistant to then-President Barack Obama on national security and a top Asia adviser. At press time, Pompeo became once kicking support after dialing 9 and being without delay added to a call in which Trump became once trying to convince French president Emmanuel Macron to support a doable navy scramble against Iran.
"It's the cover-up and not the crime" is always a lame cliché, and even more so in a case like this, where Ukrainian soldiers were dying in the conflict with Russian Federation while Trump was holding up military aid in hopes that Ukraine would fluff up a conspiracy theory for him.
Trump on Thursday again invited foreign interference in a USA presidential election by publicly calling on China to investigate Joe Biden.
The Associated Press reports that President Trump instructed Pence to cancel his plans to attend the inauguration of Zelensky after initially urging him to go. Trump contends the former vice president did so to help his son. "If a foreign country can help us with respect to corruption and corruption probes, I don't care if it's Biden or anybody else". With no such threat, was there, as Democrats have alleged there might be, a quid pro quo with Trump?
People in Zelenskiy's camp who knew Volker from his service in the east asked him to arrange contact to advertise the progress that backers said was being made in Ukraine on fighting corruption.
"As I said on the phone, I think it's insane to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign", Taylor told Sondland. However, Sondland reportedly insisted that had to proceed "irrespective of the pretext" stating he "was anxious about the alternative".
In releasing the exchanges Thursday, the Democratic committee chairmen said they are "still only a subset of the full body of the materials" provided by Volker, which they hope to make public later.
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