President Donald Trump has outmaneuvered impeachment-obsessed Democrats yet again.
Friday morning the White House released a formerly eyes only memo record — for all intents and purposes a transcript — of the first telephone call between Trump and then newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, dated April 21, 2019.
The transcript kneecaps one of the Democrats’ main impeachment claims, namely that part of the alleged Trump quid pro quo (or bribery as Democrats now call it after having focus-grouped the term) was the arrangement of a Zelensky visit to the White House.
The other piece of the alleged quid pro quo was the delivery of security aid to Ukraine (which the U.S. provided before Ukraine diplomats ever knew it was in question) in exchange for investigations of alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and alleged improprieties committed by Joe Biden’s son and potentially Biden himself.
The transcript, however, completely undercuts the White House visit claim in the quid pro quo accusation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 15, 2019
The new transcript of the older call records Trump saying to Zelensky, “When you’re settled in and ready, 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.”
Further driving the nail into the coffin is Zelensky’s response: “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.”
Clearly, as far as Zelensky knew, the invitation for a White House visit had been extended and he had accepted it.
Regardless of State Department claims that the White House set pre-conditions on the meeting, the President of the United States had personally invited Zelensky.
Those claims take us to another point: Where were those pre-conditions coming from? Democrats point to text messages like this, reported in The Washington Post, from U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker to Zelesnky aid Andrey Yermack: “heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington.”
That’s all well and good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far. That text was sent on July 25, hours before the Trump-Zelensky call. Volker might have been saying one thing to Zelensky’s aid, but Trump said something very different to Zelesnky according to the July 25 transcript: “Whenever you would like to come to the White House, feel free to call. Give us a date and we’ll work that out. I look forward to seeing you.”
Again, Zelensky responded as if there were no pre-conditions (even after the Volker texts): “Thank you very much. I would be very happy to come and would be happy to meet with you personally and get to know you better. I am looking forward to our meeting…”
That’s a second invitation from Trump and acceptance from Zelensky.
So the order of things is
- April 21: Trump invites Zelensky for the first time.
- July 25: Volker texts with Zelesnky aid about pre-conditions for meeting
- July 25 (hours after Volker texts): Trump invites Zelensky a second time; Zelensky accepts for a second time. No mention or implication of pre-conditions.
Democrats might point to U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor’s texts with Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland: “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations,” and “As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
Sondland responded, “The president has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s of any kind.”
He went on to text, “The president is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign I suggest we stop the back and forth by text.”
What was missing from that text? Anything along the lines of “the president will not honor his invitation to Zelensky until Zelensky does x, y, and z.”
This leaves the Democrats with a distinct problem: There’s zero proof that Trump himself had any preconditions for the meeting. All the Democrats have are texts among bureaucrats from the State Department (which is notoriously liberal, establishment and globalist) discussing what they say the White House wants.
In addition to that lack of proof, the Democrats also have to contend with Trump personally inviting Zelensky to the White House, not once but twice.
Trump had absolutely no reason to invite Zelensky if he didn’t plan to honor the invitation.
Remember, we’re all told that Trump’s a bully, a jerk, a cowboy who intimidates people and uses brute force to get them to do what he wants.
The transcripts were classified and would only come out if Trump released them. No one would ever read what was said there. So why, if Trump was going to play hardball, did he not start right then and there? Why invite Zelensky, no strings attached, just to turn around and have his minions reverse the invitation? If anything that would make Trump look weak, either unwilling or unable to handle his own dirty work.
This new transcript of the first phone call between Trump and Zelensky should destroy all claims of any quid pro quo involving a Zelensky White House visit.
The Democrats will, of course, ignore it. But come November 2020, voters may well remember yet another time Democrats have attempted to deceive them.