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Trump Says Authorizing Release Of Transcript Of Zelenskiy Call

Updated

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives to address the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 24.

U.S. President Donald Trump says his administration will release the "complete, fully declassified, and unredacted" transcript of a controversial July phone call in which he allegedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a political rival.

Trump made the announcement in a tweet on September 24 amid growing calls from Democrats to launch impeachment proceedings in Congress.

"You will see it was a very friendly and totally appropriate call. No pressure," he wrote in a separate tweet.

However, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said that a release of the transcript was not enough to satisfy his party's demands and called for a secret complaint filed by a whistle-blower regarding the phone call to be turned over to Congress, as required by law.

"We need the complaint. Simply to release the transcript is not going to come close," Schumer said.

U.S. media have reported that an intelligence-community whistle-blower had filed a complaint in August after becoming alarmed at Trump's alleged attempt to pressure Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call.

The administration has refused to turn over the complaint.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the Democratic-led House of Representatives, has so far resisted calls by her party members to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump for previous actions.

But she has scheduled an announcement for 5 p.m. local time on September 24, with The Washington Post and other media reporting she will call for the beginning of an impeachment inquiry.

Pelosi said it would be wrong if Trump asked Ukraine to launch an investigation into a political opponent, even if he did not tie the request to the release of millions of dollars in U.S. aid.

Impeachment proceedings against a president begin in the House, but the Senate tries such cases, and a conviction there is unlikely given Republican control of the body.

Trump earlier in the day confirmed he told staff to freeze almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine just ahead of the phone call with Zelenskiy in which he allegedly pressured the Ukrainian leader to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who previously had business dealings in Ukraine.

Biden is one of the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.

The former vice president said on September 24 that if Trump did not fully comply with congressional investigations into the call with Zelenskiy, Congress should initiate impeachment proceedings.

"If he continues to flout the law, Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment proceedings," Biden said in a statement.

Speaking to reporters at the United Nations, Trump said he held up aid to Ukraine as part of efforts to combat corruption and push European countries -- singling out France and Germany by name -- to "put up money" to help Ukraine.

"As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid," Trump said, calling allegations that he pressured Zelenskiy "ridiculous."

"They were fully paid. But my complaint has always been, and I'd withhold again and I'll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine."

Since 2014, the EU and European financial institutions have mobilized a package of more than 15 billion euros ($16.5 billion) in grants and loans to support Ukraine's reform process, according to the bloc.

Trump said he told Zelenskiy, a 41-year-old political novice, that "we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son," contributing to corruption already happening in Ukraine.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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