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Fmr. Ukraine official: Zelenskyy chose to play dumb on 2019 Trump call

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-24 12:36:49-04

New details emerge on the call between former President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that took place July 25, 2019, after Zelenskyy won his country's presidency.

Trump repeatedly pushed for Zelenskyy to investigate now President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, in exchange for military aid.

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me," Trump said to Zelenskyy during the phone call, according to released transcripts by the White House.

This conversation, where Trump's exact words were "I would like you to do us a favor, though," triggered the House inquiry that led to his first impeachment.

"By that time, we're reading between the lines and reading what, really, President Trump was after quite well, so obviously, there was some surprise President Trump was so explicit in his messaging, but you know, we knew what to expect and we kind of, we had a strategy in place," said Igor Novikov, one of President Zelenskyy's former top advisers – who was in the room when the call happened – tells Newsy.

Novikov says that they chose the "strategy of playing dumb" and "stalling" as much as they could because Zelenskyy had warned them that their top priority was "to do whatever we can to not get involved in U.S. domestics."

"Before, the before the phone call between Andriy Yermak and Rudy Giuliani. We hoped that playing dumb is gonna save us, but after that phone call and after the perfect phone call, we realized that you know, we have our work cut out for us," said Novikov.

Novikov says that they hoped that by humoring Trump and "playing dumb" they would be in the clear but later realized that after what Trump called the "perfect" phone call, they had their work cut out for them.

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