“If they want it, I’ll give it to them,” is what Trump told a group of reporters recently. This statement, made on Friday, was relating to a second call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that House Democrats have been seeking as part of the impeachment inquiry.
“We’ll probably give it to you on Tuesday, Monday being a holiday,” Trump told the reporters.
What is the Importance of the Ukraine Call Transcripts?
In September, when news of the whistleblower complaints against the President surfaced, the Trump administration took the odd step of releasing their own summary of the call. While Trump has repeatedly called this summary “the transcript,” it’s not actually a verbatim recording of the call, but is a summary that the White House volunteered to release.
Ironically, this summary hardly paints the president in a positive light. In the summary, Trump asks directly for a favor from his Ukrainian counterpart in relation to aid from the US. “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump states in the summary, before asking Zelensky to open investigations into Trump’s own political rival, Joe Biden.
What About the Earlier Call to Ukraine by President Trump?
Lawmakers involved in the impeachment inquiry have been seeking the transcript of an April 21 call between Trump and Zelensky, which occurred just after Zelensky won the Ukrainian election. There has been some speculation that Trump may have engaged in quid pro quo dealings with Zelensky during this call as well, though it’s unclear from where this speculation stems.
Trump, for his part, has stated that he has no problem offering another call summary, but not until Tuesday. “I have no problem giving it to them,” Trump told reporters. Trump has repeatedly defended his conduct in relation to Zelensky, stating that the call summary shows he did “nothing wrong,” and that any allegations of quid pro quo are willfully misreading the situation.
Lawmakers, however, have surmised that Trump withheld Congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine until Zelensky agreed to investigate Trump’s political rival and his son. This, they argue, is unethical and unconstitutional, as well as being grounds for impeachment. The House of Representatives has now formally voted on inquiry procedures, and are holding public impeachment hearings.