On Monday, Donald Trump again said that he would release “the other transcript,” that being the supposed transcript of his April phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. On Tuesday morning, Trump called this transcript “more important” than the incomplete, inaccurate readout that has been released of his July call. However, there’s every reason to believe that Trump is offering up this transcript purely as a distraction.
The readout of the July call, even though it is missing several key phrases, including accusations leveled at Joe Biden, is about as far as possible from the “perfect” document that Trump claims. It not only contains Trump directly asking for political favors in exchange for military aid, but contains Trump making false statements—and threats—concerning former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. It also features Trump rambling at length about an off-the-wall conspiracy theory in which Ukraine hacked the DNC server, has Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and worked with a cyber security firm to pin everything on Russia.
That second phone call was enough to get multiple people, from Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman to the whistleblower, on their feet and raising concerns. The April call was not. By all accounts that call was simply a perfunctory congratulations offered immediately following Zelensky’s election by a reluctant Trump who was goaded into maintaining some semblance of diplomatic traditions. Vindman mentions hearing the call in his testimony. He does not mention having any problem with what Trump said on that night.
Which is clearly why Trump wants it released. The purpose of this “second transcript” is nothing more than to add confusion while providing no information. Though Rudy Giuliani was already long active in Ukraine at the time of the April call, and Zelensky’s team already knew what Trump was pushing, it shouldn’t be surprising that the two men could hold a call in which Trump held off on overt extortion. Besides, the Pentagon didn’t clear the Ukrainian military assistance package until May 23, so Trump had not yet blocked its release on that April call. He knows better than to start demanding ransom before he has taken hostages.