President Donald Trump repeatedly encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, according to a memorandum about a July phone call between the two leaders released by the White House Wednesday morning. The memo is not verbatim.
(MORE: Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump )
Interested in Donald Trump?
Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
“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 is said to have told Zelensky. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, left, and President Donald Trump, right.
While President Trump invoked Biden’s name, it was Zelensky who brought Giuliani into the conversation. Trump later said, “Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.”
(MORE: Ukraine’s 2014 revolution to Trump’s push for a Ukrainian probe of Biden: A timeline)
Zelensky assured Trump that his new prosecutor general “will look into the situation.”
Official Transcript by ABC News Politics on Scribd
The memo released by the White House includes this cautionary language: CAUTION: A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place….”
(MORE: From a controversial phone call to impeachment calls: A Trump whistleblower timeline)
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden exits after making remarks about the DNI Whistleblower Report as well as President Trumps ongoing abuse of power at the Hotel DuPont on Sept. 24, 2019 in Wilmington, Del.
The crux of the debate surrounding Joe Biden’s conduct in Ukraine refers back to the dismissal of the country’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, in 2016. At the time, Biden was leading U.S. policy toward Ukraine with an emphasis on cracking down on corruption, and called for Shokin to be fired.
Giuliani and Trump have accused Biden of calling for his dismissal because his office was investigating Burisma, where Biden’s son, Hunter, had a seat on the board of directors.
But the assertion that Biden acted to help his son has been undercut by widespread criticism of Shokin from several high-profile international leaders, including members of the European Union and International Monetary Fund, who said Biden’s recommendation was well justified.
(MORE: Pelosi announces formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump)
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
Rudy Giuliani speaks at an event outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York on Sept. 24, 2019.
Democrats have accused President Trump of using his desire for an investigation into the Bidens as leverage with Zelensky, particularly in light of the fact that the White House had, at the time, withheld nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine, which was later released.
While there is no explicit mention of the withheld aid money during the July 25 phone call, President Trump invoked the country’s financial fortunes after saying “we will get to the bottom of it.”
“Your economy is going to get better and better I predict,” Trump told Zelensky. “You have a lot of assets. It’s a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.”
The conversation between Trump and Zelensky occurred just one day after special counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill – a fact Trump clearly had on top of his mind.
(MORE: Trump froze aid before call with Ukraine’s president asking him to probe Biden)
U.S. Attorney General William Barr participates in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Sept. 9, 2019.
“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,” Trump said. “Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”
In response, Zelensky offered support, telling Trump, “Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation.”
The president’s July phone call with Zelensky set into motion a series of events that included a dramatic step forward in Democrats’ march toward impeachment.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the launch of an official impeachment inquiry after a debate between Congressional Democrats and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence over how to handle a whistleblower complaint reportedly tied to Trump’s overtures to Zelensky during the call.
Asked Wednesday about the newly released transcript, Pelosi told ABC News she had not read it, but said the president “will be held accountable. No one is above the law.”