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House Democrats' Impeachment Inquiry Gains Momentum After Release Of White House Memo

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

President Trump described the conversation as beautiful. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it confirms the need for an impeachment inquiry. Of course, we're talking about the July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The White House released an account of that call this morning.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

According to the White House note takers, President Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart for what he called a favor, just as Zelenskiy brought up U.S. defense sales to Ukraine. Trump later pushed Zelenskiy to get Ukraine's prosecutor to open an investigation tied to former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading Democratic candidate for president.

SHAPIRO: Trump is expected to hold a news conference in New York any minute now. Earlier today, the president said what's happening in Washington is, quote, "the single greatest witch hunt in American history."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The letter was a great letter - meaning the letter revealing the call. That was done at the insistence of myself and other people that read it. It was a friendly letter. There was no pressure. The way you had that built up, that call, it was going to be the call from hell. It turned out to be a nothing call other than a lot of people said I never knew you could be so nice.

SHAPIRO: One of those echoing the president was Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He defended Trump on Twitter, calling the transcript a nothing burger. And he said this to reporters on Capitol Hill.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LINDSEY GRAHAM: From my point of view, to impeach any president over a phone call like this would be insane.

CORNISH: On the other side of the aisle, Democrat Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump had betrayed his oath of office and sacrificed the country's national security in doing so.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADAM SCHIFF: The notes of the call reflect a conversation far more damning than I or many others had imagined. It is shocking at another level that the White House would release this - these notes and felt that somehow this would help the president's case or cause because what those notes reflect is a classic mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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