A five-page transcript of a call between US President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky shows no wrongdoing to justify Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, above, on Tuesday initiated impeachment proceedings against the president for allegedly seeking the help of a foreign power to gain political advantage ahead of the presidential election in November next year.
The impeachment move was based on a whistleblower’s complaint that Trump held nearly $400 million military aid approved by Congress to Ukraine to force Zelensky open a 2016 corruption case involving Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president Joe Biden, when he was a board member of a Ukraine-based gas company.
The transcript of the 30-minute phone conversations on July 25 released by the White House on Wednesday shows Zelensky being told to look into the case involving Bidens. Trump tells Zelensky that his personal lawyer and attorney general will contact him and help him in the investigation.
Biden’s name is mentioned twice in the call. However, there is no mention of the military aid to Ukraine.
In the transcript, Trump says Joe Biden goes around bragging that he stopped the prosecution against his son. He then asks Zelensky if he can look into the case.
On Tuesday, before Pelosi announced the impeachment move, Trump said that as president, it is his duty to check whether aid from the US is lost to corruption.
On why the military aid to Ukraine got delayed, Trump said he was waiting for European countries to contribute their share. The aid was finally released to Ukraine this month.
Describing the call as friendly and appropriate, Trump said it shows he did not pressure Zelensky to investigate Bidens.
The Democrats, and not the Republicans, pressured Ukraine to back them and what they did was an impeachable offense, he said.
Senator Lindsey Graham said on Wednesday that the transcript of the phone call shows no criminality. It would be “insane” to impeach Trump over that call.
Republicans said Democrats are losing their minds when it comes to Trump.
Pelosi, however, defended the impeachment move, saying
Trump sought a foreign government’s help in his political campaign at the expense of national security and undermining elections.
Republican John Ratcliffe said the call mentions no quid pro quo, no military aid, and no violation of the law.
To destroy Trump, Democrats harmed the country’s national security and compromised an important ally. They should apologise for this, Ratcliffe said.
While lawmakers are divided over the relevance of the phone call, Pelosi seems to have jumped the gun by ordering the impeachment probe under pressure.