“Let these investigations go forward,” Rudy Giuliani told the presidential headquarters in Kyiv, Ukraine, his voice turning impatient. “Get someone to investigate this.” On the other end of the line, hunched over a speakerphone, two Ukrainian officials listened in disbelief as Giuliani demanded probes that could help his client, then-President Donald Trump, win another term in office.
The 40-minute call, a transcript of which was obtained by TIME, provides the clearest picture yet of Giuliani’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainians on Trump’s behalf. The President’s personal lawyer toggled between veiled threats—“Be careful,” he warned repeatedly—and promises to help improve Ukraine’s relations with Trump. “My only motive—it isn’t to get anybody in trouble who doesn’t deserve to be in trouble,” Giuliani said. “For our country’s sake and your country’s sake, we [need to] get all these facts straight,” he added. “We fix them and we put it behind us.”
The conversation on July 22, 2019, kicked off the campaign of intimidation that resulted in Trump’s first impeachment. For a year and half, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his aides said little about their interactions with Giuliani, not wanting to anger an emissary of the U.S. President. But now, as the Trump era ends with a historic second impeachment trial, the Ukrainians have begun to speak up about the circumstances that led to the first. They are also taking steps that could imperil Giuliani and his Ukrainian allies. [Continue reading…]