Transcript of Trump Ukraine call ‘missed out key details’, White House official tells impeachment inquiry

The rough transcript of a telephone call where Donald Trump urged the Ukrainian president to investigate his political rival Joe Biden missed out key details, a senior White House official has reportedly told the impeachment inquiry.  

The official, the US Army officer Alexander Vindman, said that Mr Trump had brought up tapes of Mr Biden discussing Ukrainian corruption on the call, but that the comment did not appear in a transcript later released to the public. 

Mr Vindman also reportedly said that Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, made explicit mention of the Ukrainian company which Mr Biden’s son worked for but that again the comment was not in the transcript.

Mr Vindman’s testimony was given behind closed doors to the three congressional committees leading the impeachment probe on Tuesday but extracts have been widely reported by US media outlets.

His claims have drawn interest because the July 25 call in question lies at the heart of attempts by Democrats to formally kick Mr Trump from office through impeachment.

They argue it shows Mr Trump abused his power by trying to secure an investigation into Mr Biden, the former US vice president who could win the Democratic presidential nomination for the 2020 election.

Mr Trump has not denied seeking an investigation into Mr Biden but argues there was nothing improper about making the demand, saying his call to Mr Zelenskiy was “perfect”.

Mr Vindman was able to listen to the July 25 call because he is the top Ukraine expert on the White House’s National Security Council.

A rough transcript of such calls are usually reconstructed after they take place based on notes at the time. They go through a process of being signed off before being stored.

Mr Vindman reportedly requested that those two details be included in the transcript after seeing they were not in a draft, but his attempts to secure the change were rejected.

The claim is significant as the White House has been accused of trying to cover up what was said in the call by storing the transcript on a computer system reserved for classified material.

On Thursday the US House of Representatives is due to hold a vote on a resolution drafted by the Democrats outlining the rules for how the impeachment process will proceed.  The vote was demanded by the Republicans.

However they have criticised the process outlined by their political rivals, specifically the limited involvement of Mr Trump’s lawyers.

The resolution outlines how the impeachment inquiry, thus far carried out behind closed doors, would soon become public, with hearings to take place for anyone to watch.

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