There were two key assertions made by the mainstream media regarding a phone call between President Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
One, as reported by the Wall Street Journal in the initial story, was that “President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden ’s son, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The second main contention was that Trump threatened to withhold hundred of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine unless Ukraine investigated Biden’s son, who made millions of dollars from a Ukrainian company while his father was vice president — a clear quid pro quo.
The two assertions led Democrats on Tuesday to move forward with impeachment proceedings — before they even knew what the two leaders said.
But the newly released transcript shows that Democrats once again went off half-cocked. There’s no smoking gun whatsoever, just like the Russia collusion case. In fact, a reading of the transcript shows that Trump did neither.
Here’s exactly what Trump said regarding Biden’s son:
“I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news so I just want to let you know that. 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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
That’s it. He never demanded Zelensky “investigate” Biden’s son, simply asks him to if he can “look into it.”
But that also has to be taken in context. Trump had previously expressed his interest in allegations that Ukraine had played some role in meddling with the 2016 election. Here’s what Trump said to the Ukraine president:
“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”
That was clearly an effort by Trump to probe backward into the 2016 election. That’s the “favor” Trump was asking — no pressure, just a favor.
As for that quid pro quo, that didn’t happen, either.
In the call, Trump told Zelensky the US has been “very, very good” to Ukraine.
Trump makes no mention of the $391 million in foreign aid that he had directed Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, to put a hold days before the July 25 call. Trump has said that the money was put on hold to press foreign leaders in the region to pony up their own aid. The White House released the funds to Ukraine in September.
So, no quid pro quo, either.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is another non-smoking gun, brought to you by the Democrats.