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McConnell encouraged Trump to release transcript of Zelensky call: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (R-Ky.) reportedly encouraged President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation 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 BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays 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 PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation 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.”