Trump tries to upstage impeachment hearing with irrelevant summary of first Ukraine call


Trump has long claimed his July conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was 'perfect,' and has suggested this earlier call was 'most important.'

Donald Trump on Friday shared a partial transcript of an April 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as the House of Representatives held its second open impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill.

A phone conversation between the two leaders on July 25 is at the heart of that impeachment inquiry and prompted a whistleblower to come forward with complaints that Trump pressured Zelensky in that call to investigate 2020 political rival Joe Biden.

Multiple officials have testified that Trump withheld crucial aid to Ukraine to pressure officials there to launch such an investigation.

In the newly released partial transcript, Trump congratulates Zelensky and boasts of his own "tremendous economy." Zelensky thanks Trump and asks him to make a personal visit to the country for the inauguration.

Trump responds by saying he'll "look into that," adding that, "at a very minimum, we'll have a great representative. Or more than one from the United States will be with you on that great day." Trump says that individual will be "very high level."

After Zelensky pushes for Trump to come to Ukraine himself to see "how wonderful" the country is, Trump observes that Ukraine was "always very well represented" at the Miss Universe pageant.

Zelensky then pushes again for Trump to attend the inauguration, saying "it will be absolutely fantastic." Trump says he'll let Zelensky know of the decision on who will attend "very soon" and that he will "see you, very soon, regardless."

The two men subsequently exchange small talk about Zelensky practicing English and end the call.

The partial transcript notably contains no discussion of Trump's alleged concerns about Ukrainian corruption, a departure from an earlier readout released by the White House at the time, which claimed Trump had "expressed his commitment to work together with President-elect Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity, and root out corruption."

It is unclear which release, the original readout or the newly released call memo, is correct.

Like the two leaders' July conversation, which Trump has called "perfect" and an "exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation," Friday's document expressly states that it "is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion."

According to testimony by Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the director of European affairs for Trump's National Security Council, the July 25 summary in fact omitted key details. Vindman testified that he later tried unsuccessfully to get those omissions restored.

Instead, the call summary was moved to a highly classified codeword system, accessibly by only a few, effectively hiding it away until after a whisteblower filed a complaint about the conversation.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that this earlier partial transcript was perfect, suggesting it would somehow either cancel out any nefarious intent in his July 25 call, when he pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden, or prove he'd done nothing wrong in his communications with Ukraine.

On Monday, Trump even painted the April call summary as "tantalizing," tweeting that he would "be releasing sometime this week the Transcript of the first, and therefore most important, phone call I had with the President of Ukraine."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.