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15 Nov, 2019 14:15

White House releases text of 1st phone call between Trump & Zelensky

White House releases text of 1st phone call between Trump & Zelensky

The White House has released a memo of the first phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Although it details a predictably throwaway exchange, the search for the hidden meanings is on.

The call, made just a few hours after Zelensky was elected in Ukraine, is little more than a brief exchange of pleasantries, with Trump congratulating Zelensky on his presidency and the two heads of state talking about how great their respective countries are. Zelensky invites Trump to his inauguration, and Trump says they’ll meet soon, whether at the inauguration or elsewhere.

But with an impeachment inquiry in full swing, Trump’s nemeses in the Democratic Party have pounced on the conversation anyway. While former vice president Joe Biden, said to be the focus of the corruption investigation in Trump’s alleged quid pro quo, doesn’t make an appearance at all, that hasn’t stopped #Resistance stalwarts from trying to find a connection in the bare-bones protocol call.

Twitter was abuzz with speculation about the transcript - surely some parts were missing?

The fact that the White House had mentioned a discussion of “rooting out corruption,” yet the word “corruption” did not appear in the transcript, was held up as proof of a conspiracy to suppress the “truth.”

Others scorned the whole process of releasing the transcript, suggesting that Trump’s belief that his words were innocent was just more proof of his guilt.

The congratulatory call is the second Trump-Zelensky phone transcript to be released, after the text of the call that triggered the impeachment frenzy – when a whistleblower who hadn’t heard the conversation deemed it proof of a quid pro quo – failed to satisfy the president’s enemies in Washington. Trump has defended the summaries as “perfect” phone calls – which only makes his opponents double down on trying to read dirt into them.

Trump’s defenders pointed out that the transcript shows Trump eager to meet with Zelensky – far from the version depicted in the impeachment narrative, where he refuses to do so until Ukraine opens an investigation into the company that hired Biden’s son.

Stuck with a relatively lackluster transcript, House intel committee chair Adam Schiff demanded Trump release the “thousands” of documents the impeachment committee has requested as well. Others demanded transcripts of Trump's calls with...other world leaders.

Which is exactly the precedent Trump had said he was afraid of setting by releasing the original Zelensky call.

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