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Trump declares ‘case closed’ after text messages reveal officials pressed Ukraine on inquiries

President Trump on Friday insisted there was nothing for Democrats to investigate and that his conversation with Ukraine’s president involved “no pressure,” after House leaders revealed text messages showing Trump administration officials encouraged Ukraine to go public with investigations sought by Trump.

“Case Closed,” the president tweeted early Friday morning, noting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he felt no pressure on the July 25 phone call between the two leaders during which Trump asked him to investigate 2016 election interference and unsubstantiated allegations about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. 

“The Ukrainian President also strongly stated that NO pressure was put on him. Case Closed!” Trump wrote.

The president did not specifically mention the texts released Thursday by Democrats, but quoted a Washington Times headline describing Republican opinions of Thursday’s closed-door testimony with former State Department special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who provided the text exchanges to House Democrats as part of their impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Trump also insisted he has an “obligation” to request investigations by foreign countries, claiming that his effort to press Ukraine to investigate the Bidens was about rooting out “corruption” and not about investigating a political rival in the 2020 presidential campaign. 

“As President I have an obligation to end CORRUPTION, even if that means requesting the help of a foreign country or countries. It is done all the time. This has NOTHING to do with politics or a political campaign against the Bidens. This does have to do with their corruption!” Trump wrote.  

Late Thursday, three House committees revealed text exchanges showing Trump officials indicating to Ukraine that a Washington meeting between Trump and Zelensky would be contingent on Ukraine launching investigations related to the 2016 election and a Ukrainian energy company that Hunter Biden worked for.

They also showed Trump administration officials wanted Ukraine to make a public declaration about investigations related to 2016 and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company. At one point, a top Ukrainian embassy official, Bill Taylor, raises concerns about military aid being withheld from Ukraine for help with political investigations. 

The text messages do not explicitly mention Biden but contain multiple references to Burisma. 

The House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees released the messages late Thursday as part of the quickening impeachment inquiry into Trump focused on his July 25 call with Zelensky in which the president asked Ukraine to investigate unsubstantiated allegations of corruption about Biden’s family as well as a debunked theory about Ukraine’s involvement in 2016 election interference. Trump’s call with Zelensky was subject to a whistleblower complaint that alleged the president was soliciting Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 election. 

The text exchanges, which also include correspondence with Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, were provided to the committees by Volker on Thursday. Republicans have dismissed Volker’s closed-door testimony as a dud, claiming it did nothing to support Democrats’ efforts to investigate Trump. Democrats, meanwhile, argued the revelations raised further alarm over the Trump administration’s efforts to pressure Ukraine. 

Trump has admitted to asking Ukraine to investigate the Bidens but insisted he did nothing wrong, saying there was “no pressure” and no explicit quid pro quo. The president has also without evidence doubled down on accusations that Biden’s family engaged in corrupt behavior. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday morning, Trump publicly called on not only Ukraine but also China to investigate the Biden family.

“This is not normal or acceptable. It is unethical, unpatriotic, and wrong. American Presidents should never press foreign powers to target their domestic political rivals,” Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairmen of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform committees, respectively, wrote in a letter released Thursday along with the text messages.

“Engaging in these stunning abuses in broad daylight does not absolve President Trump of his wrongdoings—or his grave offenses against the Constitution,” they wrote. 

Updated at 8:30 a.m.

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