In a feeble attempt to distract from the public testimony of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, the White House on Friday released an account of the first call between Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Spoiler alert: There’s not much to it, and it isn’t entirely clear what the president hoped to “prove” by releasing it, other than that in one of two calls with Ukraine’s newly-elected leader, the White House didn’t try to blackmail Kyiv.
Trump doesn’t say anything about military aid or investigations. Trump made the call on April 21 from Air Force One, while on the way back from Easter at Mar-a-Lago.
Hilariously, Trump told Zelensky that he liked Ukraine because they usually sent pretty women to the Miss Universe pageant. “When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people”, Trump said.
Zelensky invited Trump to his inauguration. Trump said he would “look into that”. Eventually, Rick Perry was dispatched to the proceedings in place of Mike Pence.
Trump also invited Zelensky to the White House. “We’ll have a lot of things to talk about”, Trump remarked. That White House visit ended up being part of the quid pro quo, along with the military aid.
“Well, thank you for the invitation and look forward to the visit”, Zelensky said. “The whole team and I are looking forward to that visit”.
Note: Joe Biden had not yet announced his candidacy when the following call took place.