The call begins with Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election victory, but quickly devolves into the president pressing for an investigation of his political rivals and endorsing an apparent conspiracy theory. He seems to suggest Hillary Clinton’s private email server is in Ukraine and asserts that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation started with that country. He repeatedly says Zelensky should work with Attorney General William P. Barr or his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Giuliani had separately pressed Ukrainian officials for a Biden inquiry.
“I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it,” Trump says, according to the transcript.
He adds later: “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.”
Third, the non-transcript readout was vetted by Bill Barr and Sgt Schultz:
Career prosecutors and officials in the Justice Department’s criminal division then reviewed the transcript of the call, which they obtained voluntarily from the White House, and determined the facts “could not make out and cannot make out” the appropriate basis for an investigation, a senior Justice Department official said. As part of their reasoning, Justice Department lawyers determined that help with a government investigation could not be considered “a thing of value” under the law.
In a statement, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said that the Justice Department’s criminal division “reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.”
Trump’s strategy is to hope that saying he did it won’t be a problem because, well, he’s Trump and he did it (?) I guess he’s so used to pretty much admitting all the crimes that he assumes that one more won’t hurt (?) I think I need to watch another episode before I fully understand this plot development.