On Friday morning, the White House declassified and released the transcript of the first phone call between President Trump and then-Ukrainian President-elect Zelensky on April 21, in which Trump invited Zelensky to the White House.
The transcript disproves allegations, based on the July 25 phone call flagged in the whistleblower complaint, that Trump was withholding a White House meeting as leverage to get investigations into the Bidens or 2016 election meddling.
“When you’re settled in and ready, I’d like to invite you to the White House. We’ll have a lot of things to talk about, but we’re with you all the way,” Trump said on April 21 to Zelensky, after offering congratulations for his recent election. The conversation lasted 16 minutes.
The transcript of the April call reveals there was no discussion of withholding aid and that Trump had already invited Zelensky to the White House, rendering false the idea that he was withholding a meeting a few months later. Democrats calling for impeachment argue Trump was strategically withholding this meeting as “quid pro quo.” The new transcript reveals there is no evidence to support that argument.
When House Democrats released the testimony of a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor, last week, media outlets jumped on Taylor’s allegation of the leveraged White House meeting as a “second quid pro quo.”
Here’s how the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake described Taylor’s testimony:
A former Hillary Clinton adviser and director of an impeachment talking points website declared that this allegedly withheld meeting was a “bombshell.”
First, he confirmed that Sondland pressed Yermak on a quid pro quo during their Sept. 1 meeting.
Second, he confirmed that Trump told Sondland that Ukraine had to open an investigation.
These are BOMBSHELLS.
— Zac Petkanas (@Zac_Petkanas) October 31, 2019
The White House released the new transcript just as former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch began her opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee Friday morning. In a previous deposition, Yovanovitch and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff speculated that Trump and Zelensky talked about her on the April 21 call and “bash[ed]” her.
As the transcript reveals, however, Yovanovitch was not mentioned even once in the April 21 phone call.
Read the full transcript of the April 21 call here.