AP Photo/Evan Vucci
- As his Senate impeachment trial got underway on Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted in all caps that he "GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL."
- Trump was alluding to a July 25 phone call between him and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the center of his impeachment.
- During the call, Trump urged Zelensky to launch investigations into his political rivals, including former Vice President Joe Biden.
- The call was part of a broad effort from Trump, his personal lawyer, and other associates to push Ukraine to start investigations that would be advantageous to his 2020 reelection campaign.
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Shortly after President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial formally began on Thursday, he tweeted in all caps: "I JUST GOT IMPEACHED FOR MAKING A PERFECT PHONE CALL!"
Trump was impeached in the House about a month before the tweet. The House approved two articles of impeachment against Trump, one for abuse of power in relation to his dealings with Ukraine and another for obstruction of Congress over his efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry.
The phone call Trump referenced in his Thursday tweet was seemingly his July 25 conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 16, 2020
During the call, Trump urged Zelensky to launch investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, as well as a probe into a bogus conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. The allegations Trump urged Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son over were also baseless, as there is no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activities in relation to Ukraine on either of their parts.
The call was so alarming to some of the officials who listened in that it prompted a whistleblower complaint from a US intelligence official, which spiraled into the impeachment inquiry. The investigation uncovered that the efforts to pressure Ukraine to launch investigations that would aid Trump's 2020 reelection campaign went far beyond the July 25 phone call.
Trump has often defended himself by citing the fact Zelensky has said he did not feel pressured during the phone call. But impeachment-inquiry witnesses, congressional lawmakers, and Ukraine experts have all said Zelensky would never admit to feeling pressured because of Ukraine's culture and his need to keep the US on his side amid an ongoing war with pro-Russia separatists.
At the time of what Trump has repeatedly called a "perfect" phone call with Zelensky, he was moving to place a hold on about $400 million in congressionally approved military aid to Ukraine. The nonpartisan US Government Accountability Office on Thursday released a report that concluded the Trump administration broke the law, specifically the Impoundment Control Act, in freezing the aid to Ukraine.
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