President Donald Trump said he will probably release the transcript of another call he had before the July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“They want to have a transcript of the other call, the second call. And I’m willing to provide that,” Trump said before boarding Air Force One for Alabama. “We’ll probably give it to you on Tuesday [Nov. 12].”
“But here’s the deal: Read the transcript. You’ll see the call. Now I’ll give you a second transcript because I actually had two calls with the president of Ukraine. So you’ll read the second call and you’ll tell me if you think there’s anything wrong with it. But never in history has anybody gone through this. It’s a witch hunt, and it should never happen to another president.”
On Nov. 8, Trump confirmed to reporters that he had a second call with Zelensky, which occurred in April, and said he was open to releasing the transcript of that call.
“So I have a second call—I had a second call with the president, which actually, I believe, came before this one. And now they all want that one. And if they want it, I’ll give it to them. I haven’t seen it recently, but I’ll give it to them,” he said.
The July 25 call is at the center of the impeachment inquiry started by House Democrats. They accuse the president of leveraging his office and withholding U.S. aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate and obtain information on a political opponent—2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying that his request to Ukraine was to investigate allegations of corruption. In 2018, Biden boasted that while vice president, he had pressured then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to remove a prosecutor who was investigating a Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, where the former vice president’s son held a lucrative board position.
A plain reading of the transcript of the call (pdf), released by the White House on Sept. 25, revealed that Trump had asked Zelensky to look into Biden’s dealings in Ukraine but seemingly hadn’t pressured him.
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council (NSC) director for European affairs, who listened in on both calls, testified in the impeachment inquiry on Oct. 29, telling lawmakers that he twice raised concerns about the conversation with the NSC’s lead counsel.
Vindman described the April call as “positive,” in which “the President expressed his desire to work with President Zelensky and extended an invitation to visit the White House,” according to a transcript (pdf) of his closed-door hearing released by the House Intelligence Committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Nov. 6 that the panel would hold the first public impeachment inquiry hearing on Nov. 13, amid pressure from Republican colleagues who have demanded public testimonies since the beginning of the probe.
William Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, are scheduled to testify on Nov. 13, while Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, will testify on Nov. 15, according to Schiff.