“Read the transcript!” has been a mantra of President Donald Trump ever since he released a summary of his call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky over allegations he withheld aid to the nation unless its president agreed to manufacture dirt on the son of his political rival, Joe Biden.
But, in fact, the summary of the call with Zelensky is not a transcript at all; it’s a summary with important facts withheld. This was verified by Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, who listened in on the president’s call with Zelensky and testified before the impeachment inquiry on November 7. Her deposition testimony along with former National Security Council staffer Tim Morrison’s was released by the House Intelligence Committee on Saturday.
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“I recall that one of the issues he had noted was that the transcript released did not include the word Burisma. But on looking back at my notes, I do see that Burisma was mentioned by name in the call,” Williams told the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during her deposition.
Williams was asked whether she compared her notes from the call to the summary released by the White House and she noted at least one discrepancy.
“My notes did reflect that the word Burisma had come up in the caII, that the president had mentioned Burisma. I hadn’t noticed that when I first read the transcript,” she told the committee. Burisma is the company whose board Hunter Biden belonged to. When asked which president she was referring to, Williams answered, “President Trump.”
“So you wouldn’t have written that down if it hadn’t come up during the call. Is that right?” Williams was asked.
“Correct,” she responded.
She also told the committee that Colonel Vindman noticed at least one discrepancy between the conversation and the summary released by the White House.
Williams characterized the call as “unusual and inappropriate,” adding, “I guess for me it shed some light on possible other motivations behind a security assistance hold.” She also said that the call seemed to reflect Trump’s “personal political agenda… as opposed to a broader foreign policy objective.”
The House Intelligence Committee released another deposition transcript on Saturday along with Williams’s, making public Tim Morrison’s testimony. Morrison worked for the National Security Council until he stepped down the day before he was deposed. He told the committee he was uncomfortable with the idea of Ukraine’s president becoming involved in US politics, saying, “I was not comfortable with any idea that President Zelensky should allow himself to be involved in our politics.”
Morrison also confirmed that Trump was withholding aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky investigated the Bidens. He spoke of a conversation with Charles Kupperman, deputy national security adviser, saying Kupperman told him “the chief of staff’s office had informed [the Office of Management and Budget] that it was the president’s direction to hold the assistance,” adding more evidence to the case that President Trump was seeking a quid pro quo.
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