Trump Tweets Belated Defense of 'Favor' Comments in Zelenskiy Call Weeks After Releasing Transcript

More than two months after releasing the partial transcript of his call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, U.S. President Donald Trump has addressed for the first time directly his comment requesting a "favor" from his counterpart.

The July 25 call is an important piece of evidence in the House impeachment inquiry. It shows Trump pushing for Zelenskiy to look into dubious corruption allegations and a conspiracy theory against his political opponents: former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.

President Trump also urges Zelenskiy to speak with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was working to dig up Ukraine-related dirt on the president's political rivals, and the U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr about the widely-debunked claims.

Trump is accused of soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election and abusing the power of his office. He allegedly conditioned a White House meeting for Zelenskiy and $391 million in military aid on the opening of corruption investigations that would taint his opponents.

During the call, Zelenskiy thanks Trump for U.S. support on defense and said Ukraine is "ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps, specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States."

"I would like you to do us a favor though," Trump replies, "because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it," pressing Zelenskiy to "find out what happened with this whole situation" referring to the Crowdstrike conspiracy theory and also Biden.

Trump authorized the release of a partial transcript of that call, which he describes as "perfect" and denies any wrongdoing over Ukraine, on September 24. In the early hours of Thursday morning, Trump made his first direct defense of his "favor" comments.

"When I said, in my phone call to the President of Ukraine, 'I would like you to do US a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.' With the word 'us' I am referring to the United States, our Country," Trump wrote on Twitter.

"I then went on to say that 'I would like to have the Attorney General (of the United States) call you or your people.....' This, based on what I have seen, is their big point - and it is no point at a all (except for a big win for me!). The Democrats should apologize to the American people!"

Further to the call, the House impeachment inquiry has taken evidence from witnesses inside the administration, including the top U.S. diplomats to the European Union and Ukraine, to build its case against Trump.

The intelligence committee led the intelligence-gathering efforts and took testimony from key witnesses. Its report on Trump's alleged misconduct is now with the judiciary committee, which is hearing from expert witnesses on the process of impeachment.

According to the intelligence panel's report, Trump "solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, in the 2020 U.S. presidential election."

"The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and to influence our nation's upcoming presidential election to his advantage," the report continued.

"In so doing, the President placed his personal political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security."

Donald Trump impeachment Twitter Ukraine call transcript
US President Donald Trump speaks at the NATO summit in Watford, northeast of London on December 4, 2019. Trump is facing impeachment over his alleged misconduct towards Ukraine. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images
Trump Tweets Belated Defense of 'Favor' Comments in Zelenskiy Call Weeks After Releasing Transcript | Politics