The White House’s memorandum of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky put words in the Ukrainian president’s mouth that he never said, a White House official testified this week.
The Washington Post reported Friday on the closed-door testimony of National Security Council’s European Affairs Director Alexander Vindman citing unnamed people familiar with his testimony.
Vindman’s opening statement to the congressional impeachment inquiry, which has since been revealed publicly, flagged his alarm at Donald Trump’s “demand” of Zelensky that Ukraine investigate Joe Biden. Such an investigation, and others Trump pressured Zelensky to pursue on the call, would be a boon to Trump’s reelection chances.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Vindman testified some of the conversation between the leaders had been ommitted in the memorandum of the call released by the White House.
But the Post’s report goes further: Not only did the record omit words of Zelensky’s regarding the natural gas company on whose board Joe Biden’s son sat, it also included a new phrase in its place that the Ukraininan President never said.
During the call, according to Vindman’s reported testimony, Zelensky referred to the natural gas company by its name, Burisma, and acknowledged that Trump wanted the Bidens to be investigated.
Instead, the White House memorandum reflects the leader saying to Trump, “the company that you mentioned in this issue.”
According to the White House record, Zelensky told Trump that Ukraine’s next prosecutor general “will look into the situation, specifically to the company that you mentioned in this issue.”
It’s not clear why the reported change was made.
Per the Post, Zelensky’s use of Burisma’s name reflects that the Ukrainian leader may have known that the investigation was important to President Trump. Trump and his allies have urged Ukraine to investigate Burisma and other issues that would be helpful to Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign.
It’s been previously reported that Vindman testified that he attempted to correct the transcript after seeing a draft, but that his proposed edits were not made to the final document.
Politico reported earlier Friday that Vindman testified he was told by a NSC lawyer not to discuss the call with others. That lawyer, John Eisenberg, has been asked to testify in the impeachment probe.