White House releases memo of Trump’s April call with Ukraine’s Zelenskiy

GP: President Trump phone call Oval Office
President Donald Trump speaks on the phone in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The White House on Friday released a memorandum of an April 21 phone call between President Donald Trump and then-Ukrainian President-elect Volodimyr Zelenskiy.

Trump in the call extended an invitation to bring Zelenskiy to the White House, according to the four-page memo, which notes in a footnote that it is “not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.”

“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.

The conversation was 16 minutes long, according to the memo.

The U.S. president also told Zelenskiy “When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine was always very well represented.” Trump owned the beauty pageant from 1996 to 2015.

The congratulatory phone call, which occurred three months before the more controversial July 25 call, adds yet another layer to the record of communications between the White House and the government of Ukraine.

According to U.S. diplomats who have testified to House investigators about the call, it was arranged so that Trump could congratulate the newly elected Zelenskiy on his victory, a fairly standard practice among leaders of allied countries.

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified last month that, while the White House did not release a summary of the call, it was largely uneventful. “It was a good call,” it was brief, and Trump and Zelenskiy “hit it off,” Yovanovitch said she was told.

Trump, however, has touted the call as “more important” than the July 25 call in which Trump asked Zelenskiy to investigate his political rivals. That call resulted in an anonymous whistleblower complaint that quickly snowballed into the current House impeachment inquiry.

“I will be releasing the transcript of the first, and therefore more important, phone call with the Ukrainian President before week’s end!” Trump tweeted early on Tuesday morning.

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