Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Memo Of Trump Ukraine Call Released Amid Swelling Impeachment Push

Protesters call to impeach President Trump in front of the White House on Tuesday.
Carolyn Kaster AP
Protesters call to impeach President Trump in front of the White House on Tuesday.

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

The White House released a transcript Wednesday of President Trump's scrutinized call this summer with the new Ukrainian president. But that likely won't quell the growing movement toward impeachment in Congress.

According to a memo of the call, Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart for "a favor" to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who could be his 2020 presidential opponent.


The July 25 call is the subject of a whistleblower complaint from within the intelligence community, but senior Justice Department officials said Wednesday that prosecutors "did not and could not make out a criminal campaign finance violation."

Trump promised on Tuesday that the transcript would be a "complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript of my phone conversation with President Zelenskiy of Ukraine." Trump has also said the call was "totally appropriate."

The document released by the White House is labeled a "memorandum" that "is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced a formal impeachment inquiry on Tuesday, without having access to the transcript. But she said earlier in the day that evidence of a quid pro quo was not a "requirement."

Pelosi called Trump's actions a "betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections."


"The president must be held accountable," Pelosi said. "No one is above the law."

She had previously resisted pressure from more liberal members of her caucus who have been pushing for impeachment.

Democratic committee chairs have already been launching investigations into the president ever since their party took control of the House of Representatives in January, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass. — one of the six chairmen who will be part of the process — said Pelosi's decision is "constructing an umbrella for the six chairmen to proceed now on the basis of a formal inquiry" and allowing Democrats to move forward "in a unified way."

Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., who chairs the House Rules Committee, said there aren't plans for a full House vote right now, but that the swing in support — notably from more moderate members and ones in swing districts — shows that "the president has crossed a line. And you're seeing a consensus growing that he's unfit for office."

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., downplayed Pelosi's announcement, noting that Democratic committees have long been probing Trump.

"She cannot unilaterally decide we're in an impeachment inquiry," McCarthy said. "What she said today made no difference to what's been going on. It's no different than what [House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry] Nadler's been trying to do."

Impeachment — the formal charging of wrongdoing against a president — could pass in a Democrat-controlled House. Just two presidents have been impeached in history: Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Former President Richard Nixon was staring down an impeachment vote amid the Watergate scandal but resigned before formal impeachment articles were brought forward.

However, no president has ever been convicted in the Senate and subsequently removed from office. And such a feat would be tough in the GOP-controlled Senate, where 67 votes would be required.

But while most Senate Republicans have remained stalwart behind Trump, there were signs Tuesday that even they want answers, as they agreed by unanimous consent that the intelligence community whistleblower should be allowed to bring his or her information to the intelligence committee.

On Tuesday evening, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it is consulting with the executive branch on how to connect the whistleblower with congressional intelligence committees "in a manner consistent with appropriate security practices."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit