Trump Reacts to Impeachment Inquiry and Slams Critics
President Donald Trump is seething over an impeachment inquiry into his conduct after Democrats subpoenaed the White House about contacts with Ukraine and he signalled his administration would not co-operate.
In a series of tweets Saturday sent as the presidential motorcade ferried him to his Virginia golf course, Trump defended his comments and lashed out at critics, including a past foil, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
``This is a fraud against the American people!'' he tweeted.
The inquiry reached deeper into the White House when the House sent a letter Friday to Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, informing him that the White House was being subpoenaed for documents it had refused to produce. The move capped a tumultuous week that widened the constitutional battle between the executive branch and Congress and heightened the political standoff with more witnesses, testimony and documents to come.
Trump received support from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who dismissed questions about Trump's attempts to push Ukraine and China to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden as a ``silly gotcha game.''
``The president has every right to have these set of conversations,'' Pompeo told reporters while travelling in Greece. He insisted the administration's foreign efforts were reasonable, responsible and necessary to target graft, ensure aid is spent properly and protect American democracy.
``There has been some suggestion somehow that it would be inappropriate for the United States government to engage in that activity and I see it just precisely the opposite,'' he said.
It is illegal to solicit campaign help from a foreign government.
Trump, who has described his conduct as ``perfect,'' said Friday he would formally object to Congress's impeachment inquiry, even as he acknowledged that Democrats ``have the votes'' to proceed. Still, he predicted such a move would hurt them politically.
``I really believe that they're going to pay a tremendous price at the polls,'' Trump said.
Democrats accused Trump of speeding down ``a path of defiance, obstruction and coverup.'' They warned that defying the House subpoena would in itself be considered ``evidence of obstruction'' and a potentially impeachable offence.
Lawmakers are focused on Trump's efforts to push Ukraine investigate former Vice-President Biden and his son Hunter. A whistleblower complaint said that Trump sought to use military assistance for Ukraine as leverage to push President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to launch an inquiry into the 2020 Democratic hopeful.
``We deeply regret that President Trump has put us _ and the nation _ in this position, but his actions have left us with no choice,'' wrote the three Democratic House chairmen, Reps. Elijah Cummings, Adam Schiff and Eliot Engel, in issuing Friday's subpoena after White House resistance to the panel's request for witnesses and documents.
The White House has planned to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., arguing that Congress cannot undertake an impeachment investigation without first having a vote to authorize it. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham derided the subpoena as coming from a Democratic ``kangaroo court.''
When Pelosi announced that the House was initiating the inquiry, she didn't seek the consent of the full chamber, as was done for impeachment investigations into Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Pelosi insisted the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the Constitution and it is proceeding at a rapidly escalating pace.
Democrats also have sent a separate extensive request for documents to Vice-President Mike Pence focused on his contacts with Ukraine. Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman dismissed the demand, saying that ``it does not appear to be a serious request'' given its wide scope.
The House has also subpoenaed Pompeo, while the investigation has proceeded without their assistance. Pompeo said the State Department had responded to the subpoena, but he did not say what that response was. He had faced a Friday deadline to hand over the documents, but he suggested that he had not and would instead move to comply at his own pace.
``We'll work through that process,'' said Pompeo, a former congressman who was relentless in pursuing investigations into the attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, during the Obama administration.
Late Thursday, House investigators released a cache of text messages that showed top U.S. diplomats encouraging Ukraine's newly elected president to conduct an investigation linked to Biden's family in return for granting a high-profile visit with Trump in Washington.
The release followed a 10-hour interview with one of the diplomats, Kurt Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine after the impeachment inquiry had begun.
On Friday, investigators in Congress heard again from Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who brought forward the whistleblower complaint of Trump's call with the Ukraine president that sparked the impeachment inquiry.
Trump has argued that, in his conversations, he was pushing for Ukraine to investigate corruption, not trying to undermine Biden, who could be his 2020 presidential election opponent. Trump also publicly called on China to investigate the Biden family.
As Republicans search for a response to the investigation, the absence of a procedural vote to begin the probe has been a main attack line against Democrats.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Athens, Greece, Lisa Mascaro and Mark Sherman in Washington and Jonathan Lemire in New York contributed to this report.
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Trump Lashes Out in Anger as Democrats Warn of Legal Action
Unleashing unconcealed fury about Democrats and the press, President Donald Trump railed Wednesday against the investigation into his dealings with Ukraine, hours after House Democratic leaders warned the White House to expect a subpoena for documents. Democrats accused the administration of ``flagrant disregard'' of previous requests and said that refusal could be considered an impeachable offence.
Separately, the Democrats accused Trump of ``an incitement to violence'' against a national security whistleblower and advised him and his administration not to intimidate potential witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. The whistleblower exposed a July phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which Trump pressed for an investigation of Democratic political rival Joe Biden and his family. Democrats say the pressure on Zelenskiy, on its own, constitutes an abuse of power worthy of impeachment scrutiny.
In appearances in the Oval Office and a joint press conference with the president of Finland, Trump displayed an unusual show of anger as he defended what he has called his ``perfect'' phone call with Zelenskiy. He suggested, without evidence, that House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff may have committed treason, and, again without evidence, labeled Biden and his son ``stone cold crooked.''
At one point, Trump demanded that a reporter pressing him on his dealings with Ukraine move on.
``Ask the president of Finland a question, please,'' he said, emphasizing each word, eventually labeling the reporter ``corrupt.''
Trump declined to answer yes or no when asked if he would co-operate with the House to produce requested documents on Ukraine.
``Well, I always co-operate,'' he said, though his administration has repeatedly stonewalled congressional investigations. ``This is a hoax,'' he added.
Schiff, accusing Trump of inviting violence against the whistleblower, had said earlier that any effort to interfere with the Democrats' investigations would be considered evidence of obstruction and could be included in articles of impeachment.
``We're not fooling around here,'' he said.
Trump showed no signs of letting up, tweeting a vulgarity during the House leaders' news conference and saying ``the Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country.'' Throwing criticism broadly, he assailed Schiff as a ``low-life'' and said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco has turned into a ``tent city'' of homeless.
Trump has tweeted in recent days that he wants to ``find out about'' the whistleblower and question him or her, though the person's identity is protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act.
The Democrats said they would subpoena the White House Friday for documents related to Trump's dealings with Ukraine. House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings wrote in a memo to committee members that the action is necessary because the White House has ignored multiple requests.
Referring to a report on the whistleblower's complaint, Cummings said that given the ``stark and urgent warnings'' the inspector general for the intelligence community has delivered to Congress, the panel has ``no choice but to issue this subpoena.''
The subpoena will be directed toward acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and request 13 separate batches of documents related to the July call and related matters. The call unfolded against the backdrop of a $250 million foreign aid package for Ukraine that was being readied by Congress but stalled by Trump.
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the subpoena is ``nothing but more document requests, wasted time and taxpayer dollars that will ultimately show the president did nothing wrong.''
The subpoena announcement came as House and Senate staff prepared to meet with the State Department's inspector general Wednesday afternoon.
A State Department email invitation said the inspector general, Steve Linick, ``would like to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine.'' The documents were obtained from the State Department's acting legal adviser, according to the email.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday he was on the phone call between Trump and Zelenskiy that is at the centre of the impeachment inquiry. He also continued to push back against what he said was Democrats' ``bullying and intimidation.''
Democrats have scheduled closed-door depositions Thursday with former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and next week with ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and three other State Department officials. Pompeo told the committees on Tuesday that the dates they had set were ``not feasible,'' but at least some of the officials are still coming.
The Democrats said that Pompeo's resistance amounted to his own intimidation.
``Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress _ including State Department employees _ is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry,'' said Schiff, Cummings and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel in a Tuesday notice to Pompeo.
They said that if he was on Trump's call, ``Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the House impeachment inquiry.'' And they warned, ``He should immediately cease intimidating department witnesses in order to protect himself and the president.''
Democrats often note that obstruction was one of the impeachment articles against Richard Nixon, who resigned the presidency in 1974 in the face of almost certain impeachment.
The committees are seeking voluntary testimony from the current and former officials as the House digs into State Department actions and Trump's other calls with foreign leaders that have been shielded from scrutiny. They have also subpoenaed Pompeo for documents.
Volker played a direct role in trying to arrange meetings between Rudy Giuliani, who is Trump's personal lawyer, and Zelenskiy, the chairmen said. The State Department said that Volker has confirmed that he put a Zelenskiy adviser in contact with Giuliani, at the Ukraine adviser's request.
The former envoy, who has since resigned his position and so is not necessarily bound by Pompeo's directions, is eager to appear as scheduled on Thursday, said one person familiar with the situation, but unauthorized to discuss it and granted anonymity. The career professional believes he acted appropriately and wants to tell his side of the situation, the person said.
Yovanovitch, the career diplomat whose abrupt recall from Ukraine earlier this year raised questions, is set to appear next week. The Democrats also want to hear from T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a counsellor at the State Department, who also listened in on the Trump-Zelenskiy call, they said.
A whistleblower alleged in an August letter to the inspector general for the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, that the White House tried to ``lock down'' Trump's July 25 phone call with the new Ukrainian president because it was worried about the contents being leaked to the public. The complaint was eventually made public after acting Director of Intelligence Joseph Maguire withheld it from Congress for several weeks.
In recent days, it has been disclosed that the administration similarly tried to restrict information about Trump's calls with other foreign leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman, by moving memos onto a highly classified computer system.
Ukraine's president told reporters Tuesday he has never met or spoken with Giuliani. Zelenskiy insisted that ``it is impossible to put pressure on me.'' He said he stressed the importance of the military aid repeatedly in discussions with Trump, but ``it wasn't explained to me'' why the money didn't come through until September.
In Russia, Putin said scrutiny over the phone call showed that Trump's adversaries are using ``every excuse'' to attack him.
Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Rome, Angela Charlton in Kyiv, Ukraine; and Laurie Kellman, Zeke Miller, Jill Colvin, Alan Fram and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar in Washington contributed to this report.
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Whistleblower Spoke to Schiff Aides Before Filing Complaint
By Mary Clare Jalonick
A whistleblower who raised concerns about President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine spoke to staffers on the House Intelligence Committee before filing the formal complaint.
That's according to a spokesman for the committee's chairman, California Rep. Adam Schiff.
Spokesman Patrick Boland said the whistleblower contacted the committee for guidance on how to report ``possible wrongdoing,''
Boland issued the statement after The New York Times first reported the interaction.
He said that ``at no point did the committee review or receive the complaint in advance'' and that it is a regular occurrence for whistleblowers to seek guidance from the committee.
Trump seized on the interaction to criticize Schiff, who has a leading role in the Democratic impeachment investigation. Schiff said his office acted appropriately.
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McConnell: Senate Must Take Up Impeachment if House Approves
By Laurie Kellman
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Senate rules would require him to take up any articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump if approved by the House, swatting down talk that that the GOP-controlled chamber could dodge the matter entirely.
``I would have no choice but to take it up,'' McConnell said on CNBC. But he cautioned, ``How long you're on it is a whole different matter.''
House Democrats are pushing for quick action on their probe into a phone transcript and whistleblower complaint that Trump pressured Ukraine's president to investigate Democratic foe Joe Biden's family. If the House approves articles of impeachment _ not introduced at this point _ they would be sent to the Senate for trial. McConnell suggested he does not have the 67 votes to change the rules. But the Kentucky Republican, the Senate's chief strategist, left open what he means by taking up the issue.
Those tricky procedural questions could affect Trump's political future and next year's presidential and congressional election.
As Trump raged on Twitter on Monday, the House plowed ahead with formal impeachment proceedings into whether the president pressured the leader of an Eastern European country to investigate former Vice-President Biden and his son.
Democrats are driving the proceedings toward what some hope is a vote to impeach, or indict, Trump by year's end, and they have launched a co-ordinated political, messaging and polling strategy aimed at keeping any backlash in closely divided districts from toppling their House majority.
House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff is expected to issue new subpoenas, depose witnesses and perhaps hold a hearing as soon as this week. He said on Sunday that the panel would hear from the still-secret whistleblower ``very soon,'' but that no date had been set and other details remained to be worked out.
Polling showed some movement in public sentiment. A one-day NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted Sept. 25 found that about half of Americans _ 49% _ approve of the House formally starting an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
There remains a stark partisan divide on the issue, with 88% of Democrats approving and 93% of Republicans disapproving of the inquiry. But the findings suggest movement: Earlier polls conducted throughout Trump's presidency have consistently found a majority saying he should not be impeached.
The sometimes-confusing challenge of defending Trump broke into the open on Sunday's talk shows. Rudy Giuliani, the president's lawyer, insisted the real story is a conspiracy theory that has been debunked. Stephen Miller, Trump's senior policy adviser, blamed a ``deep state'' of Democrats within the government. And Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio pointed at Biden's son.
But the real question for Republicans is what happens if the House votes to impeach Trump and sends the issue to the Senate for trial.
A memorandum that Senate Republicans circulated over the weekend acknowledged it would be hard for McConnell to ``bar the doors'' and prevent the resolution managers from presenting the articles to the Senate. After that, though, McConnell has procedural options, including limiting the time they could be considered.
``How long you're on it is a whole different matter,'' he said, without elaborating.
Republicans, meanwhile were split over how and whether to defend Trump's own words contained in a phone transcript and his actions, described by a whistleblower's report _ both of which were made public by the White House.
The result has been a rainbow of approaches, led by Trump, who stormed on Twitter that the whistleblower was ``fake'' and suggested the people leading the probe should be arrested and charged with treason.
``The Fake Whistleblower complaint is not holding up,'' he tweeted Monday morning.
``I am deeply frustrated with what he and the legal team is doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president. It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again,'' said Tom Bossert, Trump's former homeland security adviser. ``That conspiracy theory has got to go, they have to stop with that, it cannot continue to be repeated.''
Not only did Giuliani repeat it Sunday, he brandished pieces of paper he said were affidavits supporting his story.
``Tom Bossert doesn't know what's he's talking about,'' Guiliani said. He added that Trump was framed by the Democrats.
Senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, meanwhile, noted that he's worked in the federal government ``for nearly three years.''
``I know the difference between whistleblower and a deep state operative,'' Miller said. ``This is a deep state operative, pure and simple.''
Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, heatedly said Trump was merely asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to root out corruption. That, Jordan said, includes Hunter Biden's membership on the board of a Ukrainian gas company at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kyiv. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either of the Bidens.
Trump has insisted his call was ``perfect.''
``He didn't even know that it was wrong,'' said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, describing her own phone call from Trump in which the president suggested the documents would exonerate him.
Bossert, an alumnus of Republican George W. Bush's administration, offered a theory and some advice to Trump: Move past the fury over the 2016 Russia investigation, in which special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of conspiracy but plenty of examples of Trump's obstruction.
``I honestly believe this president has not gotten his pound of flesh yet from past grievances on the 2016 investigation,'' Bossert said. ``If he continues to focus on that white whale, it's going to bring him down.''
Giuliani appeared on ABC's ``This Week'' and CBS' ``Face the Nation,'' while Schiff was interviewed on ABC and NBC's ``Meet the Press.'' Bossert spoke on ABC and Miller on ``Fox News Sunday.'' Jordan appeared on CNN's ``State of the Union.'' Pelosi and McCarthy appeared on CBS' ``60 Minutes.''
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White House Attorneys Directed Sealing of Phone Transcript
The White House on Friday confirmed a key detail in the intelligence whistleblower's complaint alleging that President Donald Trump abused the power of his office.
A senior administration official acknowledged that the rough transcript of Trump's July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was moved to a highly classified system maintained by the National Security Council at the direction of attorneys. The motivation and timing of the move remained unclear.
The whistleblower complaint, which is at the centre of House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, said the move to ``lock down'' details of the call suggested that ``White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.'' Trump has argued everything was ``appropriate.''
White House attorneys were made aware of concerns about Trump's comments on the call before the intelligence community whistleblower sent his allegations to the inspector general.
The official was granted anonymity Friday to discuss sensitive matters.
Confirmation of the detail came as Trump stepped up his campaign against the anonymous whistleblower and the unnamed ``White House officials'' cited in the complaint, drawing a warning from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi against retaliation.
The complaint alleges that Trump abused the power of his office to ``solicit interference from a foreign country'' in next year's U.S. election. In a July 25 phone call, days after ordering a freeze to some military assistance for Ukraine, Trump prodded new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and volunteered the assistance of both his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, and Attorney General William Barr.
Late Thursday, Trump denounced people who might have talked to the whistleblower as ``close to a spy'' and suggested they engaged in treason, an act punishable by death. Then on Friday, he targeted the complainant, a CIA officer, tweeting, ``Sounding more and more like the so-called Whistleblower isn't a Whistleblower at all.''
He also alleged without evidence that information in the complaint has been ``proved to be so inaccurate,'' though none of the allegations have been demonstrated to be incorrect.
Pelosi told MSNBC's ``Morning Joe'' show, ``I'm concerned about some of the president's comments about the whistleblower.''
She said the House panels conducting the impeachment probe will make sure there's no retaliation against people who provided information in the case. On Thursday, House Democratic chairmen called Trump's comments ``witness intimidation'' and suggested efforts by him to interfere with the potential witness could be unlawful.
Trump's Friday comment questioning the whistleblower's status could foreshadow an effort to argue that legal protection laws don't apply to the person, opening a new front in the president's battles with Congress. The intelligence community's inspector general found the whistleblower's complaint ``credible'' despite finding indications of the person's support for a different political candidate.
As more Democrats have lent support to investigations that could result in the removal of the president, Pelosi has moved to focus the probe on the Ukraine matter, rather than the array of other open inquiries.
``I think we have to stay focused, as far as the public is concerned, on the fact that the president of the United States used taxpayer dollars to shake down the leader of another country for his own political gain,'' she said Friday.
Pelosi declined to provide a timeline for the House impeachment investigation.
``They will take the time that they need, and we won't have the calendar be the arbiter,'' she said. But she added, ``It doesn't have to drag on.''
Meanwhile, Republicans were straining under the uncertainty of being swept up in the most serious test yet of their alliance with the Trump White House.
``We owe people to take it seriously,'' said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a onetime Trump rival who is now a member of the intelligence committee.
``Right now, I have more questions than answers,'' he said. ``The complaint raises serious allegations, and we need to determine whether they're credible or not.''
Legal experts said that by following proper procedures and filing a complaint with the government rather than disclosing the information to the media, the person is without question regarded as a whistleblower entitled to protections against being fired or criminally prosecuted.
``This person clearly followed the exact path he was supposed to follow,'' said Debra D'Agostino, a lawyer who represents whistleblowers. ``There is no basis for not calling this person a whistleblower.''
Lawyers say it also doesn't matter for the purposes of being treated as a whistleblower if all of the allegations are borne out as entirely true, or even if political motives or partisanship did factor into the decision to come forward.
``What a whistleblower needs to have is a reasonable belief that the information they're disclosing and complaining about could be a violation of a law, rule or regulation,'' said Eric Bachman, another Washington lawyer who represents whistleblowers. ``They do not need to be certain that there is a violation. It does not need to be proven in a court of law that there is a violation.''
Fresh questions were raised late Thursday about how the White House and the Justice Department handled the whistleblower complaint. The administration initially blocked Congress from viewing it, and only released a redacted version to lawmakers this week after the impeachment inquiry had begun.
White House and Justice Department attorneys were aware of the concerns about Trump's call with Zelenskiy before the complaint was filed, according to a U.S. official and a person familiar with the matter. The intelligence official initially filed a complaint about Trump's dealings with Ukraine with the CIA, which then alerted the White House and the Justice Department, before filing with the intelligence community's inspector general, a process that granted the individual more legal protection.
The person familiar with the matter, as well as another person with knowledge of the case, confirmed that the whistleblower was a CIA officer.
The Associated Press is publishing information about the whistleblower's background because the person's credibility is central to the impeachment inquiry into the president. The New York Times first reported that the individual was a CIA officer.
The U.S. official and the two people familiar with the matter spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The whistleblower's attorney, Mark Zaid, said publishing details about the individual places the person in a dangerous situation, personally and professionally. The CIA referred questions to the inspector general.
AP writers Lisa Mascaro and Laurie Kellman contributed.
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Ukrainian Leader Bristles at Release of Trump Transcript
By Dmytro Vlasov
The White House annoyed and embarrassed Ukraine's president by releasing his comments in a private conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump _ and may have violated the Ukrainian constitution too.
The rough transcript of Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy released Wednesday shows that Trump pressed Ukraine to ``look into'' his Democratic political rival Joe Biden. The July 25 call is now at the centre of a U.S. impeachment probe.
``I think such things, such conversations between heads of independent states, they shouldn't be published,'' Zelenskiy told reporters at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. He didn't indicate whether the White House warned him that his comments would be released.
But he also said he's ``not afraid'' of the publication and that ``no one can pressure me.'' He sought to play down the investigation into Biden and his son's activities in Ukraine, calling it just one of ``many cases that I talk about with leaders of other countries.''
Ukrainian legal expert Roman Marchenko said the release could have violated the Ukrainian constitution's privacy protections.
``According to Ukrainian law, if approval for publication wasn't given by the Ukrainian side, then there is a criminal responsibility for violation for the privacy of correspondence and phone calls,'' Marchenko told The Associated Press. ``What Trump did (in publishing the transrcripts) is a violation of Ukrainian laws.''
However Marchenko said it was doubtful that Zelenskiy's office would seek legal action against the White House.
The Ukrainian general prosecutor's office, the office of former President Petro Poroshenko and other Ukrainian government officials wouldn't comment to The Associated Press on the transcript or the Biden probe on Thursday.
While the transcript was a bombshell for U.S. politics, it didn't dominate the media landscape or daily conversation in Ukraine, where many are disillusioned with politics, corruption and Ukraine's struggling economy.
``I think that Trump may put pressure on Ukraine, because the U.S. gives a huge amount of money to support Ukraine,'' said Kyiv resident Serhiy Cheshyr.
Taras Semenyuk, political expert at the KyivStratPro consulting company, said the assumption that investigations can be ordered from on high ``is a result of the weakness of our institutions.''
``The situation is very unpleasant for Ukraine. Ukraine loses its reputation,'' he said.
While acknowledging that the Biden investigation is very ``high-profile'' in the United States, Zelenskiy told reporters, ``I don't know the details of this case.''
``Different leaders talk to me at many international meetings about various criminal cases,'' the Ukrainian president said, noting other examples from Italy and Turkey. ``I talk about such cases every day.''
At a meeting with Zelenskiy on Wednesday in New York, Trump said he placed ``no pressure'' on the Ukrainian leader. But the rough transcript summarizing the call shows Trump repeatedly prodded Zelenskiy to work with the U.S. attorney general and Trump's personal attorney to investigate Biden, a former U.S. vice-president.
The call is the subject of a whistleblower complaint against Trump and the basis for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to open an impeachment inquiry.
Zelenskiy tried to smooth over tensions with Germany and France after the transcript revealed critical comments toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
``I am grateful for any assistance to Ukraine from our European leaders, from Ms. Merkel, from Mr. Macron, and from others,'' he said.
But he maintained criticism of the Nord Stream 2 project for a pipeline to send Russian gas to Europe. He called it ``a big threat to our energy security'' and said Ukraine would lose billions of dollars.
Merkel's office refused to comment on Trump's remarks in the transcript that the German leader ``talks Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything.'' Germany's Foreign Ministry provided figures disputing Trump's account, telling The Associated Press that since 2014, German direct support to Ukraine amounted to 1.18 billion euros, in addition to another 200 million euros through European Union support.
Angela Charlton in Paris and Dave Rising in Berlin contributed.
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Text of The Memo of Trump's Conversation With Zelenskiy
The White House released a memo of President Donald Trump's July 25 telephone conversation with Ukraine's newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
The White House says a ``memorandum of a telephone conversation'' is not a verbatim transcript; it records the notes and recollections of Situation Room duty officers and National Security Council staff ``assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place.'' The White House says ``a number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation.''
Zelenskiy, who took office in May, spoke through a translator.
TRUMP: Congratulations on a great victory. We all watched from the United States and you did a terrific job. The way you came from behind, somebody who wasn't given much of a chance, and you ended up winning easily. It's a fantastic achievement. Congratulations.
ZELENSKIY: You are absolutely right Mr. President. We did win big and we worked hard for this. We worked a lot but I would like to confess to you that I had an opportunity to learn from you. We used quite a few of your skills and knowledge and were able to use it as an example for our elections and yes it is true that these were unique elections. We were in a unique situation that we were able to achieve a unique success. I'm able to tell you the following; the first time, you called me to congratulate me when I won my presidential election, and the second time you are now calling me when my party won the parliamentary election. I think I should run more often so you can call me more often and we can talk over the phone more often.
TRUMP: (laughter) That's a very good idea. I think your country is very happy about that.
ZELENSKIY: Well yes, to tell you the truth, we are trying to work hard because we wanted to drain the swamp here in our country. We brought in many many new people. Not the old politicians, not the typical politicians, because we want to have a new format and a new type of government. You are a great teacher for us and in that.
TRUMP: Well it's very nice of you to say that. I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it's something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so think it's something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn't say that it's reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.
ZELENSKIY: Yes you are absolutely right. Not only 100%, but actually 1000% and I can tell you the following; I did talk to Angela Merkel and I did meet with her. I also met and talked with Macron and I told them that they are not doing quite as much as they need to be doing on the issues with the sanctions. They are not enforcing the sanctions. They are not working as much as they should work for Ukraine. It turns out that even though logically, the European Union should be our biggest partner but technically the United States is a much bigger partner than the European Union and I'm very grateful to you for that because the United States is doing quite a lot for Ukraine. Much more than the European Union especially when we are talking about sanctions against the Russian Federation. I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defence. We are ready to continue to co-operate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defence purposes.
TRUMP: I would like you to do us a favour though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike ... I guess you have one of your wealthy people ... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you are surrounding yourself with some of the same people. 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. 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. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible.
ZELENSKIY: 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 co-operation. We are ready to open a new page on co-operation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can co-operate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. G1uliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.
TRUMP: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, 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.
ZELENSKIY: I wanted to tell you about the prosecutor. First of all I understand and I'm knowledgeable about the situation. Since we have won the absolute majority in our Parliament, the next prosecutor general will be 100% my person, my candidate, who will be approved, by the parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. He or she will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue. The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honesty so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of the case. On top of that, I would kindly ask you if you have any additional information that you can provide to us, it would be very helpful for the investigation to make sure that we administer justice in our country with regard to the Ambassador to the United States from Ukraine as far as I recall her name was Ivanovich. It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.
TRUMP: Well, she's going to go through some things. I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and I am also going to have Attorney General Barr call and we will get to the bottom of it. I'm sure you will figure it out. I heard the prosecutor was treated very badly and he was a very fair prosecutor so good luck with everything. Your economy is going to get better and better I predict. You have a lot of assets. It's a great country. I have many Ukrainian friends, their incredible people.
ZELENSKIY: I would like to tell you that I also have quite a few Ukrainian friends that live in the United States. Actually last time I travelled to the United States, I stayed in New York near Central Park and I stayed at the Trump Tower. I will talk to them and I hope to see them again in the future. I also wanted to thank you for your invitation to visit the United States, specifically Washington DC. On the other hand, I also want to ensure you that we will be very serious about the case and will work on the investigation. As to the economy, there is much potential for our two countries and one of the issues that is very important for Ukraine is energy independence. I believe we can be very successful and co-operating on energy independence with United States. We are already working on co-operation. We are buying American oil but I am very hopeful for a future meeting. We will have more time and more opportunities to discuss these opportunities and get to know each other better. I would like to thank you very much for your support.
TRUMP: Good. Well, thank you very much and I appreciate that. I will tell Rudy and Attorney General Barr to call. Thank you. Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we'll work that out. I look forward to seeing you.
ZELENSKIY: Thank you very much. I would be very happy to come and would be happy to meet with you personally and get to know you better. I am looking forward to our meeting and also would like to invite you to visit Ukraine and come to the city of Kyiv which is a beautiful city. We have a beautiful country which would welcome you. On the other hand, I believe that on September 1 we will be in Poland and we can meet in Poland hopefully. After that, it might be a very good idea for you to travel to Ukraine. We can either take my plane and go to Ukraine or we can take your plane, which is probably much better than mine.
TRUMP: Okay. We can work that out. I look forward to seeing you in Washington and maybe in Poland because I think we are going to be there at that time.
ZELENSKIY: Thank you very much Mr. President.
TRUMP: Congratulations on a fantastic job you've done. The whole world was watching. I'm not sure it was so much of an upset but congratulations.