White House Release Of First Trump-Zelensky Call Backfires
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
When President Donald Trump said he was planning to release the record of his April 21 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, many observers yawned. In the controversy surrounding the July 25 call, some had raised questions about Trump’s only other call with the new leader, but interest in the April 21 conversation died down as the evidence against the president in the broader Ukraine scandal became so overwhelming and damning.
It was easy to assume that since Trump was so eager this week to release the record of the April 21 call, it would likely be insubstantial and only amount to a distraction for the core issues at impeachment. Jokes were already circulating about the idea that Trump would claim that, since he didn’t commit any crimes on one call, he couldn’t have possibly committed other crimes.
Yet somehow, the release of the new records — again, a decision made largely of Trump’s own initiative — completely backfired.
The reason? The call transcript further undermines Republicans’ already implausible defense of Trump’s effort to induce Ukraine to investigate his political enemies: that he genuinely cares about fighting corruption.
Politico reported Friday night that “advisers suggested President Donald Trump raise the broad issue of corruption in his first call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on April 21, but Trump chose not to, according to a person familiar with the matter.”
So, instead of supporting the idea that Trump really cares about fighting corruption — which always sounded like a joke — the focus on the April 21 call just emphasizes that the president is, in fact, actively uninterested in this foreign policy objective.