Pelosi Announced Trump’s Impeachment Inquiry 24 Hours Ago—And a Lot Has Happened
It has been a bizarre and rapidly moving news cycle on U.S. President Donald Trump, his meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly—notably with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s announcement that an impeachment inquiry has begun.
Early on Wednesday, the White House released a “transcript” which read more like a summarization or memo of the president’s July 25 call with Zelensky, just one day after former special counsel Robert Mueller had testified in front of Congress.
The move was to quell the accusations of corruption after a whistleblower filed a complaint which said, among other things, that Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” potential 2020 election rival and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who held a seat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
During a joint press conference after their bilateral meeting, Zelensky said he believed only the U.S. side of the phone call would be published.
“I personally think that sometimes such calls between presidents of independent countries should not be published. I just thought that they would publish their part,” he said to Ukrainian media.
According to the White House summary, Trump said: “I would like for you to do us a favor” and suggested Zelensky work with U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, as well as Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Trump also mentioned CrowdStrike, a U.S.-based company internet security company which had been hired to look into the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee’s servers. According to the White House summary, he seemed to believe Ukraine was in possession of a “missing” server which could clear Russia of charges of interfering with the 2016 U.S. election.
During the joint press briefing, Trump also suggested the 33,000 emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s personal server “could be in Ukraine” with no further explanation.
Zelensky, a former comedian, seemed lighthearted during the briefing except for one moment when he had a notably incredulous look on his face after Trump said he hoped Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin could “get together and solve” the issue of Crimea, a region which Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The U.S. does not recognize the annexation.
The Ukrainian leader then said: “I’m sorry but I don’t want to be involved [in] Democratic open elections of USA. We have, I think, good phone call, normal. Nobody push it.” Trump quickly interjected: “In other words, no pressure.”
The briefing ended with the president stating: “Nancy Pelosi, as far as I’m concerned, unfortunately she’s no longer Speaker of the House.”
The call was made just days after Trump withheld $400 million in military aid, according to the Washington Post. It all added up, for Congressional Democrats, to a “shakedown” of a foreign leader and the House and Senate Intelligence committees got a look at the anonymous whistleblower statement later on Wednesday after it was initially held up by the White House.
Of course, the day did not end there, with the president further commenting at a solo press conference normally meant for questions about the actual reason he is in New York, the U.N. General Assembly.
Following his characteristic rant against various media outlets and his perception of a lack of coverage of certain UN-related news—he used the phrase “witch hunt” again—the president said the whistleblower’s information was “secondhand…which is interesting.”
He said he “insists on transparency” from the Bidens, accusing Hunter Biden of being involved in taking “millions of dollars out of Ukraine and China.” No evidence for the claim was provided. He also said Giuliani was looking into where the “Russian witch hunt…a total phony scam” started.
He then went on to claim Democrats “threatened” a Ukrainian prosecutor whom the State Department, International Monetary Fund, and European Union all wanted out of office for not prosecuting corruption. He also claimed President Barack Obama had asked foreign leaders for information on him, only citing “books” as evidence of his accusation.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—What is CrowdStrike? Trump mentioned the company in his Ukraine call
—What the latest polling tells us about public support for impeachment
—These are the key players in the Trump impeachment inquiry
—How impeachment momentum massively shifted among democrats
—The 25 most powerful women in politics
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