"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," the president said of already dismissed criticism concerning Hunter Biden's connection to the Ukranian gas company Burisma Holdings. "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."
Trump further suggested that Zelensky launch his own investigation into the Biden family's connection to foreign interests. "I'm sure you will figure it out," he said.
\u201cJust read the "transcript." It's not a transcript. But we can assume that its Trump's best, most diluted version of events. Casting him in best possible light. W/ least amount of critical details. And in it: *He urges Ukrainian President to investigate his political opponent.*\u201d
While the president has maintained the conversation is evidence there was no "quid pro quo," his critics disagree. One day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called to lay the groundwork for impeachment proceedings in a Capitol Hill speech, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the transcript shows that Zelensky "asked for more military aid." and "Trump told him to investigate Biden" just moments later.
"Throughout the call, Trump asks Zelensky to coordinate with his reelection campaign," he wrote on Twitter. "The transcript is devastating."
\u201cZelensky asked for more military aid. Moments later, Trump told him to investigate Biden. \n\nThroughout the call, Trump asks Zelensky to coordinate with his reelection campaign.\n\nThe transcript is devastating.\u201d
House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) claimed the conversation was even "worse than we thought."
"Folks, I am surprised the White House even released this transcript. It's worse than we thought," she tweeted. "The President sought to use the powers of the United States government to investigate a political opponent. ... We have no choice but to impeach."
\u201cAlso - what they are calling a \u201ctranscript\u201d isn\u2019t even a transcript. It\u2019s a collection of notes. This is what they are *admitting* to and it\u2019s way above and beyond what is necessary for impeachment.\n\nThe President engaged in an outright betrayal of our country.\u201d
Others cautioned that what the White House published wasn't even a full transcript of the entire conversation. Zoe Tillman, a reporter for BuzzFeed News, noted in a tweet that there is a "warning at the bottom that it's not 'verbatim' and that staff are assigned to listen and memorialize the convo in real-time."
\u201cOne thing to note: The text of Trump's call with Zelensky is styled as a transcript, and that's what we've called it. There is a warning at the bottom that it's not "verbatim" and that staff are assigned to listen and memorialize the convo in real-time https://t.co/A47nto4Uav\u201d
Jared Yates Sexton, a political analyst and professor at Georgia Southern University, noted that the "actual call was at least three times as long as the readout and reportedly Trump pressured Zelensky eight times to investigate Biden and work with [Rudy Giuliani] and [Attorney General William] Barr."
\u201cThe actual call was at least three times as long as the readout and reportedly Trump pressured Zelensky eight times to investigate Biden and work with Giuliani and Barr.\n\nThe full transcript and complaint have to come out, because this is already enough for removal from office.\u201d
— Jared Yates Sexton (@Jared Yates Sexton)
But just as was the case when the redacted Mueller Report was released in April, the Trump administration has continued to insist the text completely exonerates him of wrongdoing. An official with the Department of Justice claimed the president did not violate campaign finance laws during the call, and Trump called on Democrats to "apologize" for beginning impeachment proceedings against him.
"Will the Democrats apologize after seeing what was said on the call with the Ukrainian President?" he asked in a Wednesday tweet. "They should, a perfect call - got them by surprise!"
Pelosi has yet to tweet about the transcript's publication. Should the investigation into impeachment continue moving forward, she said in a Tuesday speech that the issue would not merely about questions of "quid pro quo" but whether Trump asked a foreign power to interfere in the election -- which he himself has admitted.