President Trump releases transcript of call with Ukrainian president

A complaint filed by a whistle-blower regarding the call has prompted a formal impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
18:22 | 09/25/19

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Transcript for President Trump releases transcript of call with Ukrainian president
This is an ABC news special were. George Stephanopoulos. Good morning we're coming air right now with breaking news related to the impeachment investigation of president trump the department of justice and the white has had just released the transcript of the July 25 phone call between president trump and Ukrainian president the Lansky. But where they discussed Joseph Biden a possible investigation in divide of former vice president but I want to bring in our Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas is that the Justice Department right now. You've seen the transcript Pierre you've been briefed. Tell us what you know. George the bottom line is that the president of the United States did in fact speak with the president of Ukraine and make a direct pitch. For the president of the Ukraine to investigate Joseph Biden and his son his wanted to close it jumps out at me. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son quote divide to stop the prosecution. And a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the attorney general that would be great the attorney general he's referring to his attorney general Barr. The president invokes the name of president attorney general barn and also Rudy Giuliani. Police that would be looking into the matter he said that both then we're going to reach out to the president of Ukraine. And ask him to get started on this and George. The president of the Ukraine indicated that he was going to investigate the matter but yet ended it is that they are fairly extensive conversation about this the president Craig talked about wanting to meet. Would Rudy Giuliani the president mentioned that he wanted to enlist the attorney general. In this what is internal general said about the fact that the president mentioned him in this phone call us. Put George rather extraordinary set of events took place. After. The inspector general gotten word of this whistle blower complaint. We now know that the inspector general referred this matter over to the Justice Department forty potential criminal investigation involving possible campaign finance. Violations of the Justice Department. Did a review an internal review involving the national security division and the criminal division. And they ultimately concluded that there was no violation potential violation of the campaign finance laws. They also say that attorney general barn. Was not involved. In knowing about this requests by the president of the United States that he never talked to the president. About this particular president's request and also that he never spoke would Rudy Giuliani about his request either George. And here in in the course of this phone conversation the president does not only mentioned Joseph Biden a possible investigation of Joseph Biden. He also talks about this crowd strike issue which of course that was related to the hacking. The DNC emails back in 2016. And asked the president to look into that as well. He did Joyce he seemed consistent in wanting to know what role. The Ukrainian. Government might have played in that also enjoys he mentions in a very derogatory way special counsel Bob Mueller. Do you remember that this is one day after Bob Mueller appeared on Capitol Hill he talked about how incompetent Bob Mueller as well George. And finally peer they also discuss investigating. The woman the foreign service officer who had been. The US ambassador to Ukraine up until the time the president's the last DeAngelis he was inaugurated. He did indeed he had some very negative things the president. I did to say about this ambassador. George Noory and I think the other thing that's interesting here is we got a little bit more details. About the whistle blower and how all this came about. In the office of legal counsel memorandum about this whole matter they point out that the whistle blower supposedly heard about this. Conversation the phone call between the president. And the president of Ukraine. From the White House officials. Good PR finally before I let you go we do have the president saying is you mentioned and the phone call that he would like the attorney general call the president. So you get to the bottom of of all this thing you have a lot of assets the attorney general saying he never spoke with the president about any of this. Could the attorney general is saying flat out. He never spoke with the president about this he never spoke to really Giuliani about this but the first time that the attorney general became aware of this was when the inspector general. And a contacted the Justice Department. And raise these concerns. Okay Pierre Thomas thanks very much want to bring in our chief White House correspondent John call for more on this pretty extraordinary. Bits of information packed. In his phone call of course the top headline the president clearly asked for Joseph Biden and assigned to investigate and I think this will be seen is even more damning than anticipated George that the president is explicitly. Asking for help here. And look at the words he is using. The White House will say there was no threat there was no quid pro quo. But the president first says the United States has been very good to Ukraine and then he says I would like you to do us a favor. And the first favor is to look into the crowd strike issue you mentioned he says. He brings up the server it's not clear what server he's talking about it in the go only one server that's been in the news regarding illicit Hillary Clinton server. And he says the server they say Ukraine has it I I don't know where that's coming from. But he's asking. He's asking for an investigation to that just has a cryptic coming here economy will be getting better at it we know you've been withholding withholding some 400 million dollars in aid. So while I think that this will be more explosives been fined and even. That. Did it anticipated and it's actually the White House decided to put this out and was it and we were being told over and over again this won't be so bad once people see it because. This looks damn and it's it's a multi tiered effort I mean remember when Rudy for Giuliani person who's gonna go to your Kramer's an uproar. Over that any bad Doug had to pull out the triple what we see here is. Rudy Giuliani involve the president saying bill bars involved although he denies it of course the direct request from the president. And the president bringing up the attorney general more than once I mean he is saying. You know my you know might my attorney I'll have my attorney general have Rudy Giuliani contact you he is. He is explicit here Dan Abrams. I'm so I think one of eight the critical things is what is the president said about it up to this point wrecked the president initially talked about the possibility this was a discussion about trying to root out corruption. Right being in in Ukraine trying to ensure that the money was going in the right places that set her up. There's almost nothing about that in this letter in this transcript this transcript is almost you can see largely about. The personal agenda. Of the president and when you read through it the majority of what the president is talking about is rude with a regard to personal agenda items the crowd strike. Hunter Biden and Joseph Biden. He repeats again and again the ambassador yet be ambassador who was on president Obama's side according bright talkative and talked to my attorney general it said Europe. And so when you're talking again the most important point though is the Biden piece right I mean you can say that the Hillary Clinton pieces inappropriate. Shouldn't have done it. When you're talking about trying to get information about your potential 20/20 rifle. You're now crossing into the potential legal issues right you're now talking about the possibility of influencing an election and and that's different than just looking back let's. Let's let's break that down a little bit of course we should remind everybody this is the day after Robert Mueller testifies. On capitol and is it gives me what is illegal and what is impeachable to begin with the legal forcefully used fear reported in this criminal referral from that they. Intelligence inspector general sent to the Justice Department cleared by president trumps Justice Department. Yeah I mean you know look at. That's almost meaningless Wright made the reason you have a special counsel or an independent counsel is because you don't want the president's appointee judging the president. On something this important. That's why when people said we don't know mark Kantor's own conclusion about the mullah report will. The whole reason that Robert Mueller was asked to come in was so the attorney general wouldn't have to make. Those sorts of determinations and here you are seeing the attorney general apparently or at least the Department of Justice making a determination. On this very on these very important question. Deciding to not turn over to congress the complaint because like you said Jorge and this is important there's a difference between what is illegal and what is impeachable. And in in this gets into that question the president. Brings up himself that Mueller had just testified this a variation part of transcript. He said -- as you saw yesterday that whole nonsense ended with the very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller and incompetent performance. A week or so extraordinary that he's. Bringing up Robert Mueller conversation with the it would the president of Ukraine but that was all about whether or not. There had been conspiracy collusion whatever works when you brush investing we look in the first place. We're that right I think this is worse than I think people expected meaning I think when when we were on Chris Christie earlier this morning. The suggestion was. They're telling us this isn't going to be that big a deal where there might have been vague right right that dared you know so maybe he asked him a little bit something about Joseph but let me. This is unambiguously so I'm wearing white you to do what they fail let's bring that Tamara Bruce on capitol I know they're just getting this now on Capitol Hill marry any initial reaction. George this is likely to only added fuel to the impeachment fire here Democrats are now just getting out. Of their weekly meeting all of the house Democrats have been huddling with Nancy Pelosi and they are now walking out to a sea of cameras and reporters asking for their reaction to this Democrats are likely going to pounce of course not only on the fact that that we now see that the president asked foreign leader to help investigate his political rival which of course Nancy Pelosi has said was the tipping point here that led her to finally move to impeach the George they're going to have a lot of questions about the attorney general and the fact the U seen the president offering up essentially his attorney general to help. Investigate pitch when he twenty rivals here look. Democrats here on the hill have long questioned the attorney general in the independence of this Justice Department Democrats. I often referred and is the president's personal attorney for the way that he handled the mobile report I suspect they're going to want to speak. To the attorney general and George I would not be surprised also if they had a lot of questions about the fact that the Justice Department is now in a position of trying to adjudicate a matter that now so clearly the attorney general was directly involved in the like. I think they'll likely say that is why they're married they're pursuing impeachment proceedings because it doesn't belong in the Justice Department right now and bring into memorandum and jury as every you don't put the letter up on the screen. 01 more time those two sentences about Vice President Biden he says the other thing. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son and fighting stop the prosecution and a lot of people wanna find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stop the prosecution so if you can look into that it sounds horrible to me what ever you can do with the attorney general. All of that those sentences. A will be the battleground. For the coming impeachment because I think it is fair to say that the Democrats are going to move forward on the bases of this alone and there's more to be found out as they. Develop the facts in committee hearings. But and the question will beat before the country are those sentences are the president's actions. In the national interest or in his own personal political interest he will argue. Corruption is a huge problem in Ukraine. It's part of the problem giving money to Ukraine it ends up in the wrong hands President Obama was aware that the EU is aware of that and he will argue. That vice president Biden's son Hunter Biden who is on the board of directors of a major energy company which is involved in some of that corruption. Was it legitimate subject of national interest. And that's what he's talking to the president Ukraine about it did that I did I I understand that'll be the defense does a pass the smell test once he explicitly mentions the name. Joseph by. Well Joseph Biden was involved in they do is the dismissal of a prosecutor that prosecutor actually have dropped the investigation of the company that Hunter Biden. Joseph Biden's son was on so that'll be hashed out. But there's no question that that that the impeachment will be. Is the president operating cynically call roughly abusing his office for his personal political gain here try to pressured this leader. To help him in an election or is he pursuing the national interest that that. Will be the question here is really important one I'm one here right the prosecutor in Ukraine who was eventually. Dismissed. Was investigating this company but a recent law. In 2013. For actions that happen in 2013. Hunter Biden joins the board in 2014. And so there's no evidence at this point that Hunter Biden was part of the initial investing yes. Point number one point number two is that the in the the prosecutor who was who Joseph Biden was pushing and this is part of an international effort that Biden was a part of. The entire administration wide effort to take this prosecutor out because he wasn't going after corruption case is hard enough. Correct and you go back and you read some of the media coverage from that event. Of when the Ukrainian prosecutor. What was eventually pushed out at it's talking about all this international pressure. How much pressure been put on Ukraine to get rid of them what would. I mean it it it didn't smell right you're you have that the president the device and it's on. Making tens of thousands dollars a month it would it would retain and you have that the vice president is an appearance problem but. But just look at this. Why would that be of pressing concern right now. What would happen in 2014. Why would this be a pressing to turn to be a central part of his call with the president and creditors are very important point here to George. Is win at the present and asks. To him to do this investigation if you look at comes right after in this transcript rafter. Presents a Lansky. Brings up the issue of of military help from the United States and in the very next sentence from the president is I would from president trump. I would like you to USA favored well I would like you to do so you're asking for something. But I I got a fair and that's something I want so very brits are getting reaction from the house speaker. And Georgia are our reporter John bargains in just caught up with the house speaker as she was leaving this meeting she says he has not read the transcript yet. But she stressed that no one not even the president is above the law saying the fact is the president of the United States in breach of constitutional responsibilities. Has asked a foreign government to help in in his little political campaign. At the expense of our national security as well as undermining the integrity of the of the election that cannot stand he will be held accountable she said. Ore and pellets go back her Chief Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas and peerless told take a step back where you're one of the things revealed. In this letter is there is a set a multi tiered effort involving the president's personal lawyer. Rudy Giuliani the president says his attorney general William Barr and then he's making these direct request. To the president out of Ukraine. I know the district attorney general said he hasn't didn't know anything about this phone call didn't know the president was invoking them. Have they said it made any judgment about whether it was proper for the president to be discussing this with the president of Ukraine. They have not made any judgment about that so far the Justice Department solely looked at weather was a campaign finance. Violation George but one of the things that jumps out at me when you look at the transcript. This is the degree to which. Giuliani is playing or role in this. He's not a member of the top administration per say but he's clearly playing a role with the president is invoking his name and get this George. The president of the Ukraine. Insists that. A member of his staff. Has already been in contact Rick Rudy Giuliani and that he was perfectly open to furthering this investigation with Rudy Giuliani George. Hey John Karr. It. As we look at this snazzy as we get this we saw this in the whistle blower complaint and when applicable when Mary was saying she thinks this is gonna fuel. The calls for impeachment hard to imagine seniority of 200. Members congress when turner members of congress for impeachment before the transfer comes out what happens next. Well look for sleeve already had the speaker of the house come out and basically make the argument not for an impeachment process but for impeaching the president. And Adam Schiff this morning the chairman. Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said based on what we already know he should be impeached so I think even before this comes out. The house was clearly moving in the direction towards impeaching the president. And it's hard see others does anything but not add fuel to that one of the questions then it was is going to be how broadly do they define articles of impeachment if indeed decide to pursue them. Right and it's something we talked about before which is that in. Previous recent impeachment proceedings. Nixon and Clinton they went brought. They went for abuse of power there were numerous counts under each of these sort of broad on a pockets. And Kiri you've got to believe that there are likely to try and be more narrow. That there are likely to try to be able to tipped want to convince the American public that they're not over reaching to the question becomes is it overreaching though or is it overdue. And and I think that they're really going to have to prove to the American people it's over do. And Terry Moran is really setting up a classic clash is can involve constitutional principles political principles. National security the president vs the executive of the president the executive branch vs congress. Absolutely because in the next step is the patient development a fact and evidence and to do that they'll have to get the attorney general before congress. He'll have to get the secretary of state. Before congress Rudy Giuliani says Mike Pompeo asked him to go to Ukraine and so a while we have the transcript what the Democrats want to do. Is bolster the evidence in this transcript. With witness at evidence and others and among though people who would have been listening to this call as a matter of routine. John Bolton the national security buys of the former now secure security advisor he be called to testify to. That appears that we are going to be getting the impeachment hearings and with potential. Public interest they did the did materialize after the Mueller investigation again one more time. The good Tim White House has released the transcript the July 25 phone call between president trump. And presents less he where he did indeed at the Ukrainian president to look into Joseph Biden we have much more during the day the president is gonna meet at present most humans afternoon. We back for that I'm George Stephanopoulos. This has been a special. From ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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