WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Friday said he would be willing to give House impeachment investigators the transcript of a call he had with Ukrainian President Volodimyr Zelensky in April of this year.
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump again defended his controversial July 25 call with Zelensky, before adding: "I have a second call, which nobody knew about, and I guess they want that call to be produced as well. So I had a second call, which actually I believe came before that call. If they want it, I'll give it to them. I haven't seen it recently. I understand they'd like it. I have no problem giving it to them."
The call Trump was referring to occurred on April 21 of this year, shortly after Zelensky won a landslide victory in Ukraine's presidential election. At the time, there was no official White House readout of the call, but Trump's then-envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, posted a tweet about the call.
Volker is one of three administration officials, along with Gordon Sondland, Trump's ambassador to the European Union and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who the president directed to carry out back-channel negotiations with the Ukrainian government.
According to both Volker's and Sondland's October testimonies, the president instructed them to work closely with his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Volker said he was motivated to participate in the shadow foreign policy by a desire to improve U.S.-Ukraine relations, which he believed would only happen if he could convince Trump that the new Ukrainian leader was willing to help the president.
Starting in May of this year, Volker worked closely with Giuliani, and was instrumental in setting up Trump's July 25 call with Zelensky, in which Trump asked the Ukrainian president for "a favor."
The House investigation was sparked by a whistleblower complaint following that July call.
The probe focuses on whether Trump abused the power of his office in his attempt to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political rival, and if so, whether those actions meet the standard for "high crimes and misdemeanors" deserving of impeachment and, potentially, removal from office.