White House Gave False Details About Donald Trump’s First Call With Ukrainian President, Transcript Showed

Donald Trump at a cabinet meeting at the White House.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The White House on Friday released a transcript of President Donald Trump’s first phone call with Ukrainian President-elect Volodomyr Zelensky in an apparent attempt to defend Trump against allegations that he improperly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to dig up dirt on Joe Biden. Instead, it sparked new allegations that Trump and the White House were not truthful about the contents of the first call.

Trump had promised that he would release the call, which he claimed was more important than the controversial July 25 call where Trump pressured Zelensky into launching an investigation of Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. He followed through on Friday just as the public impeachment hearing was beginning. But as The Daily Beast noted, the transcript showed that the White House summary of the call that had been released to the public shortly after it took place was “largely fabricated.”

In the readout of the call released hours after it took place, the White House claimed that Trump offered his “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and a commitment to work with Zelensky to strengthen democracy and root out corruption.

The White House’s account of the call made it seem as if Trump were offering support for Ukraine after its invasion by Russia and the conflict that has now stretched for five years.

But none of those statements showed up in the transcript that was released on Friday.

“Nowhere does Trump mention efforts to address Ukrainian corruption, economic prosperity, or democratic institutions,” the report noted. “Nor does he even allude to its efforts to beat back the Russian occupation of the Ukrainian territory of Crimea.”

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This is not the first time the White House has come under fire for transcripts of his interactions with Zelensky. As the Washington Post reported, the White House is accused of moving the transcript of the July 25 call to a secured server normally used for the most sensitive classified material, which critics say was done in order to limit the number of people who could see evidence of Trump pressuring Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

Any attempt by the White House to take pressure off Trump by releasing the transcript was also undercut by the president’s tweet at the start of testimony from Marie Yovanovitch where he criticized her as ineffective and blamed her for problems in sensitive situations where she had been stationed, including her time in Somalia. The tweet drew bipartisan pushback and allegations that Trump was trying to intimidate Yovanovitch.