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Rundown of the Trump-Ukraine scandal so far; the British prime minister sends mixed messages on a Brexit delay.
How we learned to spell Volodymyr Zelensky
- Text messages show top diplomats discussed using the prospect of a White House visit to get Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Burisma, a company with links to Hunter Biden. Then one diplomat expressed alarm about withholding military aid in exchange for “assistance with a political campaign” before another suggested taking the conversation offline. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
- Here’s a full transcript of the texts, which include Kurt Volker, then the special representative to Ukraine, stressing the importance of getting President “Zelensky to say that he will help [the] investigation.” [NYT / Charlie Savage and Josh Williams]
- There’s a lot that’s damaging in here: References to a quid pro quo, US officials coaching Ukrainians on how to mention an investigation into the Biden case in statements, and phrasing that suggests the diplomats were trying to cover their tracks. [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
- Meanwhile, US Sen. Ron Johnson said that the US ambassador to the EU told him there was indeed a quid pro quo (and Johnson said he then confronted Trump, who denied it). [Wall Street Journal / Siobhan Hughes and Rebecca Ballhaus]
- Since Thursday, the scandal has mushroomed even further out of control for Trump. [Vox / Alex Ward]
- This week brought revelations that the Trump administration asked multiple world leaders to investigate the Bidens, the FBI’s 2016 probe into the Trump campaign and Russia, or both. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
- Trump continues to defend his call with Zelensky. But the scandal is about a lot more than just one call — it’s about the actions of multiple US officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, who was reportedly sent to tell Ukraine that aid was dependent on investigating “corruption.” [Washington Post / Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, and Ashley Parker]
- The House impeachment inquiry has also started to bear fruit: The texts were from the first batch of documents the State Department turned over to investigators. [Politico / John Bresnahan]
- Meanwhile, polls are recording a significant spike in support for Trump’s impeachment, particularly among Democrats. [FiveThirtyEight / Perry Bacon Jr.]
- In case you’re wondering, here’s why “Zelensky” is spelled with two Ys on Zelensky’s passport but usually is not in English-language media. [Hanna Kozlowska / QZ]
Johnson puts Brexit extension on, off, and under the table
- The UK government said in court documents it will request an extension from the EU on the Brexit deadline — as Parliament demanded — if an agreement isn’t reached by October 19. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to insist there will be “no delay” on Brexit. [The Guardian / Heather Stewart, Severin Carrell, Daniel Boffey, and Lisa O’Carroll]
- The current Brexit date of October 31 was already the second extension the EU reluctantly granted to try to make a deal. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
- Johnson has stated he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than request an extension, even if that means a potentially economy-damaging “no deal” exit from the EU. [BBC]
- The Brexit countdown began in March 2017 when then-British Prime Minister Theresa May evoked Article 50 of the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon, a provision that allows member states to leave the confederation. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
- Johnson may have had a change of heart on a Brexit delay, despite his public stance. [Foreign Policy / Owen Matthews]
“I don’t know if that’s a real request or him just needling the press knowing that you guys are going to get outraged by it.” [Sen. Marco Rubio on President Trump publicly imploring China to look into his 2020 challenger Joe Biden]
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