McConnell encouraged Trump to release transcript of Zelensky call: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden sets new vaccine mandate as COVID-19 cases surge Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (R-Ky.) reportedly encouraged President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE to release the memorandum of his controversial call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. 

Two people familiar with the conversation told The Washington Post that McConnell encouraged the White House to release the reconstituted transcript to reinforce Trump’s claim that nothing improper happened during the conversation, explaining that speculation about the call had escalated too far. 

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McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

The conversation between Trump and Zelensky is at the heart of a burgeoning scandal surrounding the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

The memorandum released this week showed that Trump pressured Zelensky to open an investigation into the son of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE, a top candidate running to challenge him in 2020.

A declassified whistleblower complaint also said that a future phone call or meeting between the two presidents “would depend on whether Zelensky showed willingness to ‘play ball,’” and that “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge” of the call expressed concern that Trump was using his office for his personal political gain. 

The revelations from the memorandum and the complaint helped spur Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (D-Calif.) to announce the House would launch a formal impeachment investigation into Trump, with some Democrats alleging that Trump may have tied military aid to Zelensky’s compliance with his request.

McConnell went to the Senate floor earlier this week to praise the White House after it announced it would release the transcript. 

“I also want to express my appreciation for President Trump's announcement that the White House will release tomorrow the complete, fully-declassified, and unredacted transcript of [his] phone conversation with President Zelensky,” he said. “I hope this will help to refocus the conversation away from reckless speculation and back toward the facts.”