Trump released the transcript of the phone call he had between President Zelensky and himself. While the whole of Twitter seems to be divided on whether impeachment should happen, I will breakdown the contents of the transcript here. (Note: This is NOT a reporting of the current event. This is a breakdown of the language and possible clarification of points that are brought up in the dialogue. I hope you have snacks and a drink. This is a long one.)
The Elephant in the Room
I am going to start with the caution entry in the memorandum. Although it is NOT a verbatim transcript, meaning a word-for-word written accounting, it is a transcript in that it includes dialogue from both of the people involved. So, it IS a transcript in a sense, but not a complete one as we don’t know if anything was missed.
This caution and the “memorandum” label have led many to dismiss this document as NOT being a transcript.
The call starts innocently enough, with congratulations in regards to the parliamentary election. Zelensky shows both his thanks and his admiration of President Trump as hopes they can speak more often. Zelensky also jokes about winning more often so he can get more calls.
Here we see President Zelensky saying he wants to have a new administration and an end to corruption during his time in office. He also further drives home his admiration for President Trump by saying the U.S. President a good teacher.
Trump thanks him for the compliment and goes on to say the U.S. helps Ukraine more than European countries do, citing Germany and Merkel in particular. I tried to find a breakdown of foreign aid by country and could not locate one. So, I could not refute or substantiate the claim.
Here, President Zelensky confirms President Trump’s claim and says that he even spoke with President Macron and Chancellor Merkel. He goes on to say he admonished them and told them they needed to do more in terms of sanctions. He also claims the U.S. is a larger partner to Ukraine than the European Union. This is all in regards to the Russian Federation and the problems Ukraine is currently having with that country.
It is here he mentions wanting to purchase more Javelins from the United States for defense.
The Javelin is a man-held missile that was made to replace the M47 anti-tank missile. It is labeled as a “fire-and-forget” missile. boasting an infrared guidance system.
This is one of the parts of the memo many are calling “the smoking gun”. Let’s break this down.
“I would like you to do us a favor though.”
This could be a set-up for a quid pro quo, but it could also be a put off of the purchase conversation because something was thought of that the U.S. President deemed urgent enough to bring up. He asks if any information could be found for Ukraine situation, but does not make it clear what situation.
I could assume he meant the Russia/Ukraine cease-fire, which occurred on July 18, but then he mentions Crowdstrike.
The problem with assuming is that Russia and Ukraine have more than just the cease-fire at Donbas they have at least two more conflicts that haven’t been resolved:
Straight of Ormuz and
He offers to send Barr to help with the investigation into the matter.
Let’s hit the way-back machine…
The year is 2016, the presidential election cycle and the hacking of the Democratic National Committee servers. George Kurtz and his firm, CrowdStrike, were hired to find who was behind the infiltration of the DNC. It was CrowdStrike, not the FBI, that found the link to Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, two hackers who affiliated with the Russian government. The suspicious nature of the DNC was brought to light when they refused to let the FBI look at their servers. To date, and as far as I know, the FBI was never allowed to examine those servers.
There are sources that state CrowdStrike’s cofounder is fellow on Russia Hawk Group, but I could only find one source that said as much.
Now back to the memo…
As much as I laid forward, President Trump goes on to talk about Mueller and his report. So, I can deduce, however amateurishly, that he is NOT referring to the aforementioned, but the alleged colluding he did -or did NOT do- with Russia during the 2016 election. He goes on to say that much of the mess started with Ukraine.
Note here, he does not withhold ANY purchase deals or put forth any conditions to the deal in lieu of Zelensky looking into this. He does not say that explicitly.
One can infer, but then again, that could be interpreted as spin-doctoring what is written.
This is not coercion, seeing how he ends his part of the exchange with “…if that’s possible.”
President Trump voices his concern about the people the Ukrainian President has surrounded himself with and tells him to be careful.
Here we see President Zelensky agreeing that he should help and he will do anything to stay open to future cooperation between the United States and Ukraine. He states here he is recalling the current (current at the time) ambassador to replace him with someone he sees as more competent and fit for the role.
Here is the first time Giuliani was mentioned, but not by Trump. It was President Zelensky that mentioned the attorney had spoken with an assistant of his and that he, himself, would like to meet Giuliani.
He makes assurances that he will surround himself with “…the best and most experienced people.” He also promises to be transparent in regards to the investigations. We can gather from this the Ukrainian President has already agreed to help with the investigation at this point, WITHOUT blatant coercion from Trump.
Here we get to the crux of the matter and see Biden mentioned for the first time. The prosecutor that President Trump is referring to is Viktor Shokin. Shokin was the prosecutor during Petro Poroshenko’s term. This is also the same prosecutor accused by the then Vice-President Biden of ignoring corruption.
He says he will ask Giuliani to call Zelensky and says it would be great if the two of them spoke. There is no threat of anything here, just two people setting up a meeting.
Shokin was investigating the owner of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company.
Why is this important?
Mr. Biden has a son, Hunter, who was the director of the company at the time of the investigation. There were promised loans to be given to Poroshenko’s administration, but they were being withheld by the Obama administration, via Biden, until the then President fired Shokin.
Biden brags about it here:
So, we have a quid pro quo, but not on President Trump’s faux pas. It’s BIDEN that did it.
Trump alludes to the unethical nature of what transpired and offers the services of Attorney General Barr for investigation purposes. This is a reiteration from the offer he made earlier in the conversation.
Again, so far, there is no quid pro quo from Trump. There is no withholding of a deal until the investigation is done. There isn’t even any real pressure from Trump in regards to the matters alluded to in the call.
Zelensky is more than happy to talk about the matter revolving around the former prosecutor. He refers to the new parliament and goes on to say a new prosecutor will be approved in September, who will look into the matter.
He also says that he welcomes any information Trump and his administration may have in regards to the issue.
He agrees that the previous ambassador wasn’t very good and that she did not like him, referring to himself.
Here, Trump confirms he will be telling both Giuliani and Attorney General Barr to call President Zelensky. This is not out of the ordinary for anyone trying to set up meetings between different parties.
The Ukrainian President says he will talk to both of them, confirming his end of the exchange.
Zelensky mentions energy independence, something not in the previous parts of the memo and says they are buying American oil.
He looks forward to future meetings and thanks President Trump for his support.
The rest of the exchange is Trump repeating that he will have to men call Zelensky, an exchange of pleasantries and goodbyes.
My Two Cents
I don’t see ANY unethical behavior. I do have questions, however. It seems to me this is NOT the whole conversation unless Zelensky was referring to a previous call between the two about energy independence.
I would VERY MUCH like to see the WHOLE conversation if there is more. I would love to break that down as well.
I would also like to get my hands on the whistleblower report.
There is no quid pro quo going on here. Yes, there was a mention of purchasing weaponry and Trump asking for a favor, but it is not blatantly clear that the favor is in lieu of the weapons deal.
Until next time,
Anissa “Maddy” Walker