The White House on Friday released the transcript of President Trump’s first call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky – in which he congratulated him “on a fantastic election.”
The president had promised several times to release the transcript of the April 12 call, which he described as more important that the one about two weeks later in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
That call prompted a whistleblower complaint that led Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry. The probe centers on whether Trump abused his power by withholding almost $400 million in security aid to put pressure on the US ally.
“I’d like to congratulate you on a job well done, and congratulations on a fantastic election,” Trump told Zelensky.
“As you can see, we tried very hard to do our best. We had you as a great example,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Trump continued: “I think you will do a great job. I have many friends from Ukraine and they think – frankly – expected you to win. And it’s really an amazing thing that you’ve done.
“I guess, in a way, I did something similar. We’re making tremendous progress in the US. We have the most tremendous economy ever. I just wanted to congratulate you. I have no doubt you will be a fantastic president.”
Zelensky said his country is “an independent country, and independent Ukraine – we’re going to do everything for the people.
“You are, as I said, a great example. We are hoping we can expand on our job as you did. You will always, also, be a great example for many. You are a great example for our new managers.”
Zelensky also invited Trump to his inauguration in May.
“I know how busy you are, but if it’s possible for you to come to the inauguration ceremony, that would be a great, great thing for you to do to be with us on that day.”
Trump said he would “look into that,” and that “at a very minimum, we’ll have a great representative. Or more than one from the United States will be with you on that great day.”
Zelensky went on to describe his country and its “nice, warm and friendly” people,” as well as its “tasty and delicious food.”
“Words cannot describe our country, so it would be best for you to see it yourself. So, if you can come, that would be great. So, again, I invite you to come.”
Trump said that when he owned the Miss Universe pageant, “they always had great people. Ukraine was always very well represented. 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,” he added.
Zelensky said: “I accept the invitation and look forward to the visit. Thank you again. The whole team and I are looking forward to that visit.”
After winning with close to 75 percent of the vote over incumbent Petro Poroshenko, Zelensky took the oath of office in May in front of an audience that included Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
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