Trump Ukraine texts release, Read key text messages between diplomats.
House Democrats released text messages Thursday evening that further fueled speculation over how the White House dangled military aid and a meeting with President Donald Trump as part of an effort to get Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden.
The messages between Trump’s then-special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and other U.S. diplomats were sent before and after Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call for “a favor” to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter, on charges of corruption.
The White House’s release last week of a summary of the call prompted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to launch an impeachment inquiry into whether the president improperly used the resources of the U.S. government to pressure an ally for help in the 2020 campaign.
House Democrats released the text messages after Volker, who resigned from the Ukraine envoy post last week, spent more than nine hours Thursday testifying behind closed-doors as part of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. They said the messages prove “stunning abuses” of power.
House Republicans argued the texts were a “unilateral and cherry-picked release” by Democrats and called for the full release of the transcript of Volker’s interview.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important messages that Democrats released. The texts are verbatim. (“Potus” refers to President of the United States):
Volker and Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, discuss goals for the upcoming July 25 call between Zelensky and Trump and refer to Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine.
Volker: Can we three do a call tomorrow – say noon WASHINGTON?
Sondland: Looks like Potus call tomorrow. I spike [sic] directly to Zelensky and gave him a full briefing. He’s got it.
Volker: Good. Had breakfast with Rudy this morning – teeing up call w Yermak Monday. Must have helped. Most impt is for Zelensky to say that he will help investigation – and address any specific personnel issues – if there are any
Taylor relays concerns from the Ukrainian government:
Taylor: Gordon, one thing Kurt and I talked about yesterday was Sasha Danyliuk’s point that President Zelenskyy is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.
Sondland: Absolutely, but we need to get the conversation started and the relationship built, irrespective of the pretext. I am worried about the alternative.
Right before the call between Trump and Zelensky, Volker texts Andrey Yermak, advisor to Zelensky about expectations:
Volker: Good lunch – thanks. Heard from White House – assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / “get to the bottom of what happened” in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington. Good luck! See you tomorrow- kurt
Yermak and Volker discuss terms of Zelensky’s visit to the White House and what he’s willing to say. Burisma is the Ukrainian energy company whose board included Hunter Biden.
Yermak: Hi Kurt. Please let me know when you can talk. I think it’s possible to make this declaration and mention all these things. Which we discussed yesterday. But it will be logic to do after we receive a confirmation of date. We inform about date of visit and about our expectations and our guarantees for future visit. Let discuss it
Volker: Ok! It’s late for you – why don’t we talk in my morning, your afternoon tomorrow? Say 10am/5pm?
Volker: I agree with your approach. Let’s iron out statement and use that to get date and then PreZ can go forward with it?
Volker: Great. Gordon is available to join as well
Yermak: Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations
Volker: Sounds great!