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McConnell encouraged Trump to release transcript of Zelensky call: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as 'fake' after Obama hits Trump's tax payments White House hoping for COVID-19 relief deal 'within weeks': spokeswoman MORE (R-Ky.) reportedly encouraged President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven 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 BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan 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: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class 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.”