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WASHINGTON — President Trump has repeatedly defended himself in the impeachment inquiry by pointing to the rough transcript of his July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, which he’s called “perfect.”
But the document released by the White House omits crucial bits of dialogue about the Bidens, according to a key witness in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, one of several officials who listened in on the call.
The transcript skips over references Trump made to the possible existence of recordings of former Vice President Joe Biden discussing corruption in Ukraine, The New York Times and other outlets reported, citing closed-door testimony on Tuesday by Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council.
The transcript also omits Ukrainian President Zelensky name-dropping “Burisma,” the natural gas company where Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board for several years, according to Vindman. Vindman reportedly told lawmakers Tuesday that he attempted to have the document restored to include those missing points but was unsuccessful.
Those revelations provide fresh fuel to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, which is focused on Trump’s alleged attempts to get Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, including Hunter Biden’s paid role on Burisma’s board.
Omitting key text from the transcript that Trump has repeatedly raised as a prime defense raises fresh questions about just how far the Trump’s administration really went to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens, and what subsequent steps were taken to cover it up.
Trump has called the rough phone record released by his administration “an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers.”
But the document itself warns, on the very first page, not to be a verbatim document, under an all-caps: “CAUTION.”
The memorandum “is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion,” the document says. “The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place.”
Vindman was the first impeachment witness to address the inquiry who was actually on the Trump-Zelensky phone call on July 25, which became the focus of a whistleblower complaint by a still-anonymous U.S. intelligence official that kickstarted the impeachment proceedings.
Cover: In this Jan. 28, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)