Donald Trump’s Alleged ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ Phone Call May Have Never Happened, Report Claims

Donald Trump at a campaign rally.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Donald Trump vehemently claimed that he wanted “no quid pro quo” from Ukraine, but a new report claims that the phone call where the president allegedly denied pushing for an investigation of Joe Biden may have never actually happened.

Trump faces the prospect of impeachment after his alleged attempts to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter, related to his business dealings in the country. After a series of witnesses claimed that Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine in an attempt to pressure them into announcing the investigation, Trump himself denied that he ever asked for anything in return for the congressionally approved aid.

Trump claimed that he spoke by phone with E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, telling him he “wanted nothing” from Ukraine and was not conditioning the military aid on the announcement of an investigation. That appears to be the major plank of Trump’s defense, claiming that his actions toward Ukraine were not improper and he was not asking for an investigation of Biden in order to help him politically.

A report on Wednesday from The Washington Post claimed that there was no record of the call ever existing, and a subsequent report from JustSecurity appeared to back that up. The report broke down extensive testimony to pinpoint when the phone call would have actually taken place, noting that it could not have been on September 7, as Sondland had guessed.

The report also found that the phone call, parts of which were revealed in testimony during the public and private impeachment hearings, was not at all what Trump claimed it to be. It noted that Trump had rejected a proposed compromise to have Ukraine’s prosecutor general announce an investigation into the Bidens, rather than Ukraine’s president. Trump then demanded that the Ukrainian president publicly announce the investigation, as he had specified before.

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“The ‘no quid pro quo’ call was, in reality, a ‘here is the specific quid pro quo I want’ call,” the report noted. “And, by erroneously placing the call on September 9th, Sondland helped obscure these omissions from his testimony, by divorcing the call from its actual context in the ongoing negotiations with Ukraine over what form of quid pro quo would be acceptable.

“More importantly, it also gave the appearance that the call Sondland was describing was somehow different from the call that was described by two other witnesses – both of whom testified that the call included an explicit demand by Trump for a quid pro quo.”

The impeachment process is moving forward to the House Judiciary Committee, where Democrats are expected to prepare articles of impeachment against Trump