September 25, 2019

Five Key Takeaways From Trump’s Call to Ukraine’s Zelenskiy
(Bloomberg) -- The White House on Wednesday took the unusual step of releasing a transcript of a controversial call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that’s now at the center of a formal House impeachment inquiry.While the rough transcript didn’t deliver Democrats an explicit quid pro quo, it offered a rare and extensive view of Trump’s private conversation with a foreign leader. It also showed the extent to which the president is comfortable using his perch as commander in chief to carry out his personal and political interests, including a push to investigate the Democratic frontrunner, Joe Biden.Read more: Trump Escalates Political Jeopardy With Release of Ukraine Call Here are five key takeaways:Trump asked Zelenskiy to work with his allies on Biden probeOn multiple occasions, Trump said he would have Attorney General William Barr and his own personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, contact Zelenskiy directly. Zelenskiy said one of his assistants had recently spoken with Giuliani and hoped that Giuliani would travel back to Ukraine to meet with him.The Justice Department said unequivocally that Trump didn’t speak to Barr about having Ukraine investigate anything related to Biden, and hasn’t asked Barr to contact Ukraine. The department also said Barr hasn’t communicated with Ukraine about anything or discussed the matter with Giuliani.DOJ reviewed whether Trump violated election lawsThe Justice Department conducted a criminal review of whether Trump committed a violation of campaign finance laws after receiving a referral from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.The department’s criminal division led the review and concluded last week that there was no violation and no further action was warranted, the department said in a statement. It’s unclear, however, how thorough the review was.A Justice Department official who asked to remain anonymous said officials didn’t take into consideration that Trump was withholding aid from Ukraine when it analyzed whether the president violated election laws. The department also relied on information from the White House in doing the analysis, the official said.Trump brought up the 2016 electionIn one of the more unusual exchanges, Trump asked Zelenskiy to “do us a favor” and try to find a hacked server belonging to the Democratic National Committee.The server was hacked as part of Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump has associated the server with the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of private email, even though the two matters are separate.Trump had been warned about investigating rivalsTrump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden, his potential rival, brought up echoes of his tactics against past political opponents. He even referenced one episode in the call, blasting Special Counsel Robert Mueller for his probe of Trump over the 2016 election.The call came one day after Mueller testified before Congress. Trump told Zelenskiy that Mueller’s performance was “incompetent.”Zelenskiy told Trump he stayed at Trump TowerZelenskiy spent some time flattering Trump during the call. He began by saying he had learned how to win from watching Trump’s campaign and that he too wanted to “drain the swamp.”“You are a great teacher for us,”’ he said, according to the rough transcript.Zelenskiy also made sure to talk about Trump’s real estate developments, noting that the last time he was in the U.S. he “stayed at the Trump Tower.”To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Strohm in Washington at cstrohm1@bloomberg.net;Ryan Teague Beckwith in New York at rbeckwith3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, ;Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Joshua GalluFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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