Understanding the Trump Ukraine Call

An annotation of one of the most controversial and complicated moments of the Trump presidency.

President Donald Trump
Foreign Policy illustration/Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

U.S. President Donald Trump’s July phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, has tripped off one of the most complicated and controversial moments of the Trump presidency. 

On Wednesday, the White House released a much-anticipated memo summarizing the call with Zelensky amid growing controversy that Trump used the call to pressure the Ukrainian leader to investigate former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

The summary of the call shows that Trump urged Zelensky to look into Biden and his son Hunter

Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian oil and natural gas company. During the call, which is reportedly the subject of a formal whistleblower complaint against the U.S. president, Trump said “I would like you to do us a favor,” to Zelensky after the Ukrainian president inquired about obtaining U.S. military equipment. Trump also told Zelensky that he should be in contact with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. 

Foreign Policy has annotated the memo to unspool some of the more convoluted details and give context to the key points of the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship.

Amy Mackinnon is a national security and intelligence reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @ak_mack

Reid Standish is an Alfa fellow and Foreign Policy’s special correspondent covering Russia and Eurasia. He was formerly an associate editor. Twitter: @reidstan

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