The conversation that took place on July, 25, 2019, between Volodymyr Zelensky and Donald Trump, has resulted in a push by the House Democrats to impeach Trump. This is how a thirty-minute phone call could lead to a pivotal moment in American history.
What at first seemed to be an ordinary phone call between two world leaders, minutes later took a turn with one single line: “I would like you to do us a favor.”
Although what was said during the call is no secret, thanks to the rough transcript released by the White House, Trump’s infringements are pretty evident.
At the time of the call, Joe Biden was Trump’s biggest opponent. With polls showing that most voters favored Biden to Trump significantly more (with Biden leading by 10%), one could conclude that Biden posed an existential threat to Trump’s re-election — which is why what Trump said next is so vital: “Whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.”
Things get interesting when we look into what is it precisely that Trump wanted Zelensky to do — because this involves a completely fabricated theory that Trump has proclaimed. This theory claims that, while Obama was in office, Biden pressed to get Viktor Shokin, the former prosecutor general of Ukraine, fired for not putting an end to the widespread corruption in Ukraine.
This, however, is true, and even Biden says so. As the European Union’s envoy to Ukraine Jan Tombinski said, “Due to lack of tangible results” in Ukraine, activists, MP’s, and U.S. leaders were all demanding for Shokin to resign.
But Trump’s theory states that Biden urged to get Shokin fired because he was investigating Burisma — a holding company where Biden’s son, Hunter, was working.
If Trump could somehow get Zelensky to make it seem like Biden had broken the law for his own personal gain, this could lead to Trump winning the re-election.
Long story short, Shokin was fired due to his lack of investigating corruption. Trump’s theory, on the other hand, claims that Shokin was fired exactly because he investigated corruption. Nonetheless, if Trump could somehow get Zelensky to make it seem like Biden had broken the law for his own personal gain, this could lead to Trump winning the re-election.
While having White House officials listen in on the phone call and write down a transcript is standard procedure, hiding the records in a classified computer file is not, despite the fact that there was no reason behind the call being categorized as confidential.
This resulted in multiple staffers raising concerns that Trump had breached regulations, ultimately leading to a C.I.A. officer being notified and sending the following message to the Congress: “I have received information (…) that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
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Although there have been countless scandals revolving around Trump, this one is different. With no hesitation, Trump attempted to have a foreign leader influence the re-elections by investigating his political opponent for his self-serving purpose and then proceeded to have his staff hide the evidence.
One phone call could prove the abuse of power Trump has carried out in order to hold onto his presidency and could bring an end of the Trump administration. And if enough members of Congress see the incriminating evidence as a threat to their own re-election, even Republicans will be compelled to turn their backs on Trump.