According to a White House transcript released Friday morning, President Donald Trump agreed to a meeting with Ukraine’s president-elect Zelensky with no preconditions on April 21, which was the first official phone call between the two leaders.
The April 21 phone call with Zelensky was taken by the president on Air Force One. This conversation predated the controversial call between the two leaders on July 25, which ignited the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Democrats who have consistently relied on the complaint from a whistleblower that brought the call into the spotlight have claimed the previous call shows evidence of a “quid pro quo,” with the allegation that Trump offered a meeting between the presidents and the release of critical U.S. military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of a Trump political opponent.
The transcript of the call released Friday, however, shows a much different story. Instead of a “quid pro quo,” as accused, it was more of a formal congratulations to Zelensky and an invitation to the White House. There was no mention of investigations at all, as was the case in the July 25 phone call.
“When you’re settled in and ready, I’d like to invite you to the White House,” Trump said. “We’ll have a lot of things to talk about, but we’re with you all the way.”
Zelensky replied: “Well, thank you for the invitation. We accept the invitation and look forward to the visit. Thank you again. The whole team and I are looking forward to the visit.”
Zelensky also invited Trump to attend his inauguration, more than a couple of times. Trump said he would “look into,” attending, but said “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.”
“So, we will have somebody, at a minimum, at a very, very high level, and they will be with you,” Trump continued. “Really, an incredible day for an incredible achievement.”
The leaders continued to exchange small talk about food and culture in Ukraine, and ended the call with Trump saying, “Take care of yourself and give a great speech today. You take care of yourself, and I’ll see you soon.”
Zelensky ended the call saying: “Thank you very much. I’ll see you very soon.”
The transcript of the phone call was released just minutes before Marie Yovanovich, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, began her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee at the formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump.
“The President took the unprecedented steps to declassify and release the transcripts of both of his phone calls with President Zelensky so that every American can see he did nothing wrong,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Friday.
In addition, Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, (R-CA) read the transcript in its entirety during his opening statement at the hearing, “I read that into the record so now the American people know the very first call that President Trump had with Zelensky,” Nunes said.
Zelensky has indicated that he felt no pressure during the call with President Trump and the White House has maintained no wrongdoing as well. In addition, the president has repeatedly said that the call was “perfect,” with no evidence of “quid pro quo” at all.
So far, the testimony for the Democrats has not been impressive, with mostly hearsay and speculation.