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Trump open to releasing summary of second call with Ukraine president Zelensky

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 11/8/2019 John Fritze and David Jackson, USA TODAY
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Friday he may release the summary of a second phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky that House Democrats have sought as part of their impeachment inquiry.

Trump took the unusual step in September of releasing a summary of a July 25 call with the Ukrainian president at the center of a whistleblower’s report that alleged the president pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democrat Joe Biden.

But that summary, which the president describes as a “transcript” but is a not a verbatim record of the call, has only added fuel to Democratic assertions that Trump abused the power of his office by withholding financial aid approved by Congress to Ukraine as a way to force the country to chip in with investigations of his opponents.

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Now, lawmakers are interested in a separate April 21 phone call between Trump and Zelensky that took place soon after the Ukrainian leader was elected.

"If they want it, I'll give it to them," Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the second phone call. "I have no problem giving it to them." 

Trump said he doesn't like releasing the phone call summaries, because "it’s such a bad precedent.” Releasing the details of calls with foreign leaders could make it harder for his and future administrations to conduct foreign diplomacy. But Trump has argued the summaries demonstrate he's done nothing wrong in his exchanges with Ukraine.  

Slideshow by photo services

Democrats have focused on one particular exchange in the initial summary in which Trump asked Zelensky for a favor after an extensive conversation about U.S. aid. 

"I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it," Trump said. 

Trump goes on to ask Zelensky to look into details about a company that investigated hacking of the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

"We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine," Zelensky said in response.

John Fritze and David Jackson cover the White House. Reach them @jfritze and @djusatoday. 

Contributing: Jeanine Santucci

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump open to releasing summary of second call with Ukraine president Zelensky

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