Dispatch September 25, 2019

Every time Trump Confessed to the Ukraine Extortion Scheme

The partial transcript of President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky isn’t just a smoking gun. It’s a confession: Trump did exactly what he’s been accused of doing.

Trump offered Ukraine’s president a clear quid pro quo as part of his extortion racket.

  • Trump starts by reminding the Ukrainian president about all of the aid the U.S. government gives to Ukraine, mere days after cutting off that aid.
  • Zelensky agrees with Trump, and notes that Ukraine is “ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps” to receive more military aid from the U.S. government.
  • Trump then asks Zelensky to “do us a favor,” ultimately asking him to work with Attorney General Bill Barr to start a bogus investigation into his potential political opponent Joe Biden and his son.
  • Not only that, Trump pushes another favorite conspiracy theory, left over from the 2016 election, which posits that a missing server (it’s not missing) showed that maybe it wasn’t Russia who hacked and released stolen Democratic emails. (It was Russia).

This is the information the administration wanted to release.

  • The president repeatedly said that releasing the transcript of the call would exonerate him and show that the call was “friendly,” “totally appropriate,” and even “perfect.”
  • Releasing it was clearly meant to be a stopgap as the administration continued to withhold the whistleblower complaint that reportedly cites Trump’s call with Zelensky as one of multiple troubling incidents.
  • It’s not even a full transcript, and it’s not Trump’s only call with Zelensky: The first page notes it “is not a verbatim transcript” but only a partial one based on “the notes and recollections” of people present. We also do not know what happened on Trump’s first call with Zelensky in April, shortly before Rudy Giuliani was first reported to be pushing the investigations.
    • In fact, in his press conference at the UN General Assembly, Trump identified at least two more phone calls with Zelensky—including at least one involving Vice President Mike Pence—for Congress to investigate.

Here are some people who have a lot of explaining to do:

  • Attorney General Bill Barr. Trump told the Ukrainian president Barr would help with any investigation into the Bidens. Did Barr know Trump was offering up his services? If so, is that why Barr tried so hard to avoid answering Senator Kamala Harris when she asked if Trump had ever suggested he open an investigation?
  • Rudy Giuliani. Trump pressed Zelensky to talk to Trump’s personal lawyer, whose fingerprints have been all over the scandal since the very beginning. Giuliani has admitted that he’s met with Ukrainian officials and pushed for an investigation into Biden. What else does he know? Who else knows about his activities?
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Multiple State Department employees reportedly facilitated Giuliani’s meetings with Ukrainian officials. Giuliani even claims he was acting on behalf of the State Department. Did Pompeo know about, or even sign off on, Giuliani’s “shadow Ukraine agenda?”

As evidenced by today’s partial transcript, the president has already confessed to impeachable levels of wrongdoing. As we continue to learn more about other pieces of the puzzle, including the April phone call and the whistleblower complaint, Congress must move full-steam ahead to hold him accountable.