Hours after the White House released a partial, reconstructed transcript of a phone call between Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky — a transcript containing evidence that commentators called “worse than expected,” as The Inquisitr reported — Trump gave a rambling press conference at the United Nations in which he appeared to implicate his own vice president, Mike Pence, in the controversy over whether Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate his potential 2020 election opponent, Joe Biden.
Trump spent a large portion of his United Nations press conference condemning the allegations about his attempted strong-arming of Zelensky as a “hoax,” and a “witch hunt.” But as he complained about the Congressional investigation into the phone call — an investigation that as of Tuesday has become an official impeachment inquiry into Trump — Trump appeared to call for an investigation of Pence.
“I think you should ask for VP Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple of conversations also,” Trump said in the press conference, as quoted by the news site Raw Story.
Trump then continued, saying that he expected Congressional Democrats to also ask for a transcript of “the first phone call,” Raw Story reported — appearing to reveal that his July 25 conversation with Zelensky was not the first time he had spoken to the Ukraine president, who was elected only in April of this year.
“And also Mike Pence’s conversations, which were I think one or two of them. They were perfect. They were all perfect,” Trump continued.
Pence is known to have held one conversation with Zelensky, according to a Washington Post timeline of the Ukraine scandal. That exchange took place on September 1, when Pence traveled in Trump’s place to Poland for a World War II memorial ceremony.
In his conversation with Zelensky on that date, Pence says that he told the Ukraine president that aid to his country from the United States would be linked to Trump’s “great concerns about issues of corruption,” as quoted by The Post. But Pence denied that he had mentioned Biden in his conversation with Zelensky.
To what Trump was referring when he mentioned a second conversation between Pence and Zelensky remains unclear.
In the transcript of the call between Trump and Zelensky, Trump also asks the Ukraine president to “find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine,” an apparent reference to his now-imprisoned 2016 campaign boss Paul Manafort, who was convicted of financial crimes related to his previous work as a political consultant to former Ukraine strongman Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014.
But it was Manafort who hand-picked Pence as Trump’s running mate in 2016, according to a New York Times report.