Top U.S. diplomats encouraged Ukraine's newly elected president to conduct an investigation linked to Joe Biden's family in return for a high-profile visit with President Donald Trump.
It soon escalated into what one diplomat feared was a "crazy" swap that risked vital U.S. military aid.
That's according to a cache of text messages released late Thursday by House investigators following a 10-hour interview with one of the diplomats, Kurt Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine amid the Democrats' impeachment inquiry.
The pages lay out the raw contours of a potential quid-pro-quo exchange — Trump gets his political investigation of a top Democratic rival in return for granting a favor to Ukraine.
The text messages convey a distinct campaign among the three diplomats, who — apparently against some of their stated better judgment — appear to be trying to help Ukraine reset its relationship with Trump by pushing his interest in investigating his Democratic rival and the 2016 election.
Volker, in a text message on the morning of a planned July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, wrote: "Heard from White House — Assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / "get to the bottom of what happened" in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington."