Republicans seem disinclined to echo Trump's description of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as "perfect." But they do suggest it was harmless.
A Republican staff memo, laying out talking points for the hearings, asserts that the rough transcript of the call "shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure."
In fact, Trump clearly exerted pressure in the phone call. As well, he made his request for a Ukrainian investigation of Democrats right after Zelenskiy raised the subject of U.S. military assistance.
When Zelenskiy told him Ukraine was "almost ready" to buy more anti-tank missiles from the U.S., Trump responded: "I would like you to do us a favor, though."
Trump did not state explicitly that he would hold back military aid or benefits to Ukraine unless he got what he wanted.
But he repeatedly stated that both his attorney general and personal lawyer would follow up with phone calls about the investigation he was seeking, and "we will get to the bottom of it."
Moreover, Trump's people were engaged in a systematic effort behind the scenes for months to get Ukraine to probe Joe and Hunter Biden and other Democrats. According to closed-door testimony, U.S. military aid was not to be resumed until Ukraine made a public statement committing to an investigation.