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White House releases rough transcript of Trump's first Ukraine call with Zelensky

Posted at 9:21 AM, Nov 15, 2019

WASHINGTON – The White House has released on Friday a transcript of President Donald Trump's first phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart.

The call, which occurred on April 21, came just after Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president.

It doesn't contain any mentions of the Bidens or the 2016 election, as a later July call did.

The release of the first call came after a month-and-a-half-long debate among aides over the wisdom of making another conversation public.

"I have many friends in Ukraine who know you and like you," Trump tells Zelensky in the call.

Trump does tell Zelensky he looked forward to working with him in the future.

"We'll have a lot of things to talk about, but we're with you all the way," Trump said.

And he mentions his onetime ownership of the Miss Universe franchise.

"Ukraine was always very well represented," he said.

The document, which has been circulating in the White House, has been the subject of debate over the last month. Internal disputes, political maneuvering and diplomatic differences complicated its rollout , people familiar with the matter said.

Trump first raised the prospect of releasing the log of an April phone call with Volodomyr Zelensky on September 25, insisting it would help reenforce his innocence in the then-nascent impeachment crisis. He said at the time that Vice President Mike Pence's phone conversations should also be made public.

Ever since, White House advisers have debated the wisdom of releasing additional conversations with Zelensky after a transcript of Trump's July phone call failed to quiet allegations he was pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals.

Trump said last weekend he would probably release the transcript on Tuesday. Tuesday came and went, and he announced on Wednesday the transcript would be released Thursday.

On Thursday morning, a White House official said timing of the release was "up in the air."

Even though the additional phone calls are not seen as troubling inside the White House, some officials view releasing any additional information as risky. They believe Democrats will find a way to weaponize the transcripts, and are wary of providing any more fuel to the impeachment fire. And even some officials not aligned with Trump see a dangerous precedent in releasing transcripts of a president's conversations with foreign leaders.