During the conversation Trump asked for two favors. The second requested favor was for Ukrainian authorities to cooperate with Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr in investigating Hunter Biden and Joe Biden. The other requested favor is described in this language from the memorandum.
The First Favor
The paragraph at the bottom of page 2 is an eight sentence paragraph paraphrasing Zelinsky. The Ukrainian president begins by fulsomely agreeing with Trump that the United States is a much better friend to Ukraine than those folks in the European Union. He then cuts to the chase in the last two sentences, which read as follows:
I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps specifically we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.
Javelins, BTW, are portable antitank missiles. They come in handy if your country is being invaded by Russian tanks.
Immediately after the material quoted above, Trump speaks as follows, at the top of page 3 of the memorandum:
I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible. [paragraph quoted in full, ellipses in original memorandum]
President Zelensky, who probably thinks he has just heard a message from Planet Krypton, responds in the next paragraph with fulsome but general promises of cooperation with the United States.
You will immediately note two things: that this is the usual incoherent word salad, exemplifying Trump’s continuing slide into Alka Seltzer disease; and second, that he is asking for a quid pro quo. If you have a gun and I want to buy it and you say, “Fine, but as a favor to me, please investigate my enemy,” you are asking for a quid pro quo.
But Exactly WHAT is the First Favor That Trump Requested?
In the post cited above, Mr. Miller—who badly needs a better headline writer—explains. Please read for yourself, but I will summarize.
CrowdStrike is an American cybersecurity firm. Trump thinks it’s located in Ukraine, not California.
One of CrowdStrike’s founders was Dmitri Alperovich, who lives in California but was born in Russia. Trump thinks he’s a Ukrainian still living in Ukraine.
When the Democratic National Committee was hacked, the DNC retained CrowdStrike to determine what had happened—an assignment like the company performs for many other organizations.
Trump thinks what really happened was that a DNC staffer did the hack, that the Clintons subsequently murdered the hacker, and that CrowdStrike covered up the whole thing.
Mr. Miller summarizes it this way;
Given that background, it seems likely that the favor Trump asked for on the call was for the Ukrainian president to look into an American company, with a non-existent Ukranian CEO, to verify a conspiracy theory — one that has been debunked by his own intelligence agencies and Department of Justice — which would reveal that the Russians didn’t actually hack the DNC, that the leaked emails came from a midlevel staffer who was then murdered by the Clintons.
And that bonkers, insane request would end up being the less damning of the two requests Trump made of the newly elected president while delaying military aide to the country.
The Difference Between the Two Favor
Favor Two—cooperate in investigating the Bidens, and even maybe make up some dirt on them—lay within the power of President Zelinsky to carry out, if he chose to do so.
Favor One, however, was not within Zelinsky’s power, any more than he could prove that Hillary Clinton had sex with Bigfoot while riding a unicorn.