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“I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine,” Trump replied, according to a call summary published by the White House. “I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine.”
Zelenskiy replied that Trump is “not only 100%, but actually 1,000%” right. He said Ukraine was “almost ready” to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles.

“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,” Trump replied. He went on to ask for two investigations: one into a 2016 election conspiracy theory about a Democratic “server”, and the second tied to Biden and his son.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said.Zelenskiy told Trump that his new prosecutor “will look into the situation, specifically to Burisma, the company that you mentioned in this issue”.
The White House summary would later omit the word Burisma, which Vindman insisted Zelenskiy said.

After the call ended, the White House advisers sat flabbergasted. Morrison had a sinking feeling and went to the lawyers. Vindman was shocked and went to the lawyers.
Williams found the call “inappropriate” and “political in nature” and ensured the vice president had access to a transcript.

In the aftermath of the 25 July call, multiple people spoke with an unnamed whistleblower who began to assemble the complaint that would be submitted
two weeks later to the inspector general of the intelligence community, and would eventually prompt the opening of the formal impeachment investigation into Trump.

Trump maintains that every aspect of the “nothing call” was “perfect” and “beautiful”.
The meeting
The next morning in Kyiv, Sondland, Volker and Bill Taylor, who replaced Yovanovitch as the top diplomat in Ukraine – met with Zelenskiy.

Zelenskiy told the delegation that Trump had on three occasions during their call the day before raised “some
very sensitive issues” that he hoped to broach with the president during an in-person meeting, according to David Holmes, a US embassy official in Kyiv, who took notes during the meeting. At the time, Holmes did not understand the reference because, “contrary to standard”
procedure, the embassy had not received a readout of the call.

After the meeting, Taylor and Volker traveled to the front lines in northern Donbass.“I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact,”
Taylor later recalled. “Over 13,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week. To this day, that continues. More Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without US assistance.”
At this point Taylor was aware the US was withholding congressionally-approved military assistance to Ukraine. But he still didn’t know why.The lunch
Sondland had stayed in Kyiv for a meeting with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelenskiy. By the time Holmes was
informed that he needed to take notes at the meeting, Sondland had already disappeared upstairs. He raced to catch him, arriving at Yermak’s office too late.

Yermak’s assistant refused to let Holmes into the room. She said the men had insisted on meeting “one-on-one”
with no notetaker present. Without a choice, he took a seat in the anteroom and waited.

The meeting ended after half an hour, at noon. Shortly thereafter, Sondland, Holmes and two staff members were on their way to Sho, a trendy Ukrainian restaurant in the
heart of Kyiv’s administrative district. They were led through a dining room with whitewashed walls and ornate chandeliers to a table on the outdoor terrace. Holmes sat opposite Sondland, close enough to share an appetizer.
Sondland ordered a bottle of wine for the table. The conversation was breezy and social.

Then the ambassador announced he was going to call the president to give him an update on the morning’s meetings. Holmes watched in amazement as Sondland dialed the White House
and asked to be patched through to Trump.

Embassy officials assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored, he testified, especially as the country’s major mobile networks are owned by Russian companies.
It was lunchtime. All around, waiters in clean white shirts whizzed past with steaming plates of rabbit-filled varenyk and pots of crimson borscht.

“Gordon Sondland,” he said into the receiver, according to Holmes’s testimony. “Holding for the president.”
An unmistakable voice boomed from across the Atlantic. Sondland theatrically jerked the phone away from his ear, “presumably because of the loud volume”.

He told the president he was calling from Kyiv. Trump asked if Sondland was in Ukraine. He was, Sondland
replied, and fresh from a meeting with the country’s new president who, he told Trump, “loves your ass”.

“So he’s going to do the investigation?” Trump asked.

“He’s going to do it,” Sondland said. Zelenskiy would do “anything you ask him”.
From across the table, Holmes said he could hear both sides of the call, which lasted nearly two-minutes and quickly moved on to other topics, including A$AP Rocky and the Kardashians.

When the call was done, Holmes, emboldened by the ambassador’s candor,
asked whether it was true that the president “did not give a shit about Ukraine”. Sondland said it was and explained that he only cared about “big stuff”. A war with Russia should count as “big stuff”, Holmes countered. Sondland shook his head. Trump was only interested in
things like the “Biden investigation” that Giuliani was pushing.“Every element was extraordinary,” Holmes told investigators.

Sondland later said he did not remember the phone call but did not dispute the conversation: “That sounds like something I would say.”
Pence’s Poland visit
As a hellscape brewed in the western Atlantic, the White House reconsidered plans to send Trump to Warsaw for an event commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland.
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