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  • Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens during a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly

    Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens during a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 September 2019

Zelenskiy assured Trump that his next Ukrainian prosecutor general “will be 100 percent my person” and “will look into the situation.”

United States President Donald Trump did ask his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a political rival Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, in coordination with the U.S. attorney general and Trump’s personal lawyer, according to a summary of call released by the Trump administration Wednesday.

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According to the summary of the half-hour July 25 call, Trump told Zelenskiy that Attorney General William Barr and Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani would speak to him about re-opening a Ukrainian investigation into a Ukrainian gas company for which Biden’s son Hunter had served as director.

The Justice Department said in a statement that Trump has not spoken with Barr about having Ukraine investigate Biden and that Barr has never discussed this matter with Giuliani. 

“The other thing, 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 said, referring to Barr.

Zelenskiy assured Trump that his next Ukrainian prosecutor general “will be 100 percent my person” and “will look into the situation.”

The conversation occurred after Trump had ordered a freeze of nearly US$400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine, which the administration only later released. Trump has denied he did this to get leverage or blackmail Zelenskiy.

“What those notes reflect is a classic Mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader,” said Democrat Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

On Wednesday both presidents appeared on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York and denied impropriety in their call, with Ukraine’s president telling reporters “nobody pushed me.”

The summary was released a day after United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry of Trump, adding the “the actions revealed the dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections." 

The whole controversy came to light after a whistleblower from within the U.S. intelligence community lodged a complaint with an internal watchdog about Trump’s conversation with Zelenskiy.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said his panel is communicating with an attorney representing the whistleblower and that individual is likely to testify this week.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the House has the power to impeach a president for “high crimes and misdemeanors” and the Senate then holds a trial on whether to remove the president from office. No president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Democrats currently control the House and Republicans control the Senate.

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