It’s About A Lot More Than The Call, But That Call Was Pretty Bad

Republicans claim that the Trump-Ukraine issue starts and ends with the July 25 phone call.  Devin Nunes can’t understand what everyone is so worked up about, because as he just said, the phone call was just a “pleasant exchange between the two leaders.”

First of all, that phone call was not a “pleasant exchange between two leaders.” Just by reading the incomplete! whitewashed! White House summary of the call, it’s clear that Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in our election.

TRUMP: “I would like you to do us a favor…”

Almost immediately, government officials were extremely concerned by Trump’s call with the president of Ukraine.  So concerned, they filed the call on a separate, more secure system and restricted its access.

NPR: “White House officials filed the record of President Trump’s now-famous call with his Ukrainian counterpart on a ‘different, more secure system’ from the one they normally used, a key witness told House impeachment investigators.”

Lt. Col. Vindman was additionally concerned about the transcript that he says left out passages. 

VINDMAN: The summary “omitted crucial words and phrases.”

Most importantly, the call was just one part of a monthslong pressure campaign designed to extort Ukraine into announcing the investigations Trump wanted.

  • February 2019: Indicted Giuliani associates pushed the then-president of Ukraine to announce investigations in exchange for a state visit. 

  • May 2019: Giuliani associate Lev Parnas told the incoming government it had to announce investigations or Pence would not attend Zelensky’s inauguration and aid would be frozen. 

  • May 2019: Zelensky and advisers were worried about how to handle Trump and Giuliani’s pressure campaign and how to stay out of U.S. domestic politics. 

  • August 2019: Trump envoys pushed for a statement announcing investigations, even drafting language for Ukraine to use. 

  • September 2019: Ukrainian officials decided the military aid was more important than staying out of U.S. politics and made plans for Zelensky to announce the investigation on CNN.