Skip to content

: EPISODE 3

Extortion

On July 25, 2019, Trump called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and asked him for a favor: a public announcement of investigations into Trump’s political opponents. After he hung up, White House lawyers immediately sprang into action, burying the records of the incriminating phone call on a secret server and swearing those on the line to secrecy.

That call was part of a broader effort, a shadow foreign policy agenda in which a coterie of Trump advisers—including Rudy Giuliani, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, and Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker—demanded political favors in exchange for first a White House meeting and, later, $400 million in desperately needed military aid. In this episode, host Max Bergmann outlines how that extortion scheme came to be, starting with the Trump administration’s attempts to build a relationship with the new Ukrainian government and leading to the infamous July 25 call that prompted a whistleblower complaint and launched impeachment proceedings.

The Asset is a partnership between The Center for American Progress Action Fund, District Productive, and Protect the Investigation. Hosted by Max Bergmann, The Asset seeks to make sense of all the investigations, indictments, and speculation surrounding President Trump.

The Asset tells the full story of Trump’s lawlessness and abuse of power, from his collusion with the Russian government to his extortion of a foreign leader to help him win re-election. Each week, we will examine the colorful characters that populate the story of how the President of the United States continues to leverage the full power of the United States government for his own personal gain.