Ukraine Scandal: Understanding the Phone Call


Courtesy of The Irish Times

Julia Rodriguez, Editor-in-Chief

On July 25, 2019, President Donald Trump made a phone call to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky. The White House released a transcript of this phone call on September 25, two months after the phone call took place. This phone call has been deemed one of the most important calls of Trump’s presidency, and for a few reasons:

1) Trump asked Ukraine to do him a “favor” by investigating matters pertaining to Hunter Biden and his business with a Ukrainian gas company.
2) He discussed providing aid to Ukraine.
3) He depreciated other European countries and their aid to Ukraine, along with other officials of both the United States and Ukraine.
4) This phone call is the premise of the impeachment inquiry

Trump greeted Zelensky by congratulating him on his win, for he was just elected as president. Throughout the call, the two men are extremely friendly, complimenting each other and highlighting their country’s strengths. Zelensky frequently mentioned strengthening Ukraine’s relationship with the United States, both diplomatically and economically.

A large subject of the conversation was the support for Ukraine from other countries. Ukraine and Russia are currently at war (called the Russo-Ukrainian War), due to disputes over territory, such as the Crimean Peninsula, along with other related locations. The United States had previously promised to financially aid Ukraine in fighting against the Russians. Trump said the other European countries aren’t as nearly as supportive of Ukraine as the U.S., and even said that “Germany does almost nothing for you (Ukraine).” Zelensky agreed, adding, “They (other European countries) 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.”

As the call progressed, they discussed past ambassadors and officials, which served as a perfect opportunity for Donald Trump to reach his ultimate goal. Towards the end of the call, Trump subtly asked Zelensky to do him a favor – look into a conflict involving their prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, and son of former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden. “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,” Trump said. In response to this request, Zelensky asked for further “helpful” information so they could start their investigation on the matter.

Hunter Biden previously engaged in foreign investments in both Ukraine and China. In Ukraine, Hunter Biden had a contract with a Ukrainian gas company. However, Trump claims that when Ukraine’s prosecutor started to investigate the company, Hunter Biden stopped the investigation. Many believe that Trump is asking Ukraine to look into this situation so he can damage his political rival’s reputation, especially now that elections are just around the corner.

Before the two men hung up, they discussed meeting in Poland and flying Donald Trump to Ukraine to visit. “We can either take my plane and go to Ukraine or we can take your plane, which is probably much better than mine,” Zelensky said. Trump also gladly invited Zelensky to Washington. It was very clear that the two presidents wanted to “get to know each other better.”

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The transcript of the phone call
Courtesy of