Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) slammed President Trump on Wednesday after the White House released a memo on Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying the July conversation underscores the need for a formal impeachment inquiry.
Pelosi said in a statement that while Trump and other U.S. presidents are expected to speak with foreign leaders as part of their job, “It is not part of his job to use taxpayer money to shake down other countries for the benefit of his campaign.”
“Either the President does not know the weight of his words or he does not care about ethics or his constitutional responsibilities,” she said. “The transcript and the Justice Department’s acting in a rogue fashion in being complicit in the President’s lawlessness confirm the need for an impeachment inquiry. Clearly, the Congress must act.”
The memo released by the White House on Wednesday shows Trump asking Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, his political rival who is seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Trump and his GOP allies have questioned Biden’s efforts in 2016 while serving as vice president to push Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating a natural gas company on whose board his son Hunter sat. No evidence has emerged that Biden was working with his son’s interests in mind.
“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,” Trump said on the July 25 call, according to the released memo. “Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
Democrats have expressed concern over the request, with some suggesting that Trump may have threatened to tie military aid to Ukraine with Zelensky’s willingness to investigate Biden.
“The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad,” Pelosi said.
Trump defended his actions on the call Wednesday, arguing he put “no pressure” on the Ukrainian leader to investigate Biden and characterizing the conversation as “a nothing call.”
Pelosi’s latest statement weighing in on the memo comes a day after she announced that House Democrats would open a formal impeachment investigation into Trump.
The White House is also planning on providing Congress with a copy of a whistleblower complaint over the Ukraine call that reportedly expressed alarm over a “promise” Trump made.