On Sunday, while visiting Houston, Texas, President Trump indicated that he might release the transcript of his July phone call with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, reports The Hill.
“Now, as far as my conversation, it was a perfect conversation,” the president said. “It … couldn’t have been any better. But we’ll make a determination about how to release it, releasing it, saying what we said. It was an absolutely perfect conversation.”
Trump continued, implying that by releasing the transcript, world leaders might feel as though they cannot speak freely when engaging with him over the phone:
The problem is when you’re speaking to foreign leaders, you don’t want foreign leaders to feel that they shouldn’t be speaking openly. You have to be talking to people – and the same thing for an American president. You want them to be able to express themselves without knowing that not every single word is going to be going out and going out all over the world. When I make calls though, I know that there are a lot of people on those calls that are listening, intelligence people, with my approval, intelligence people and others. So when you’re making a call, or when you’re talking to a leader of a foreign country, it’s very easy the assume that you have many, many people listening.
The media maelstrom regarding the “transcript” all stems from a Washington Post story from Wednesday, which claims, citing two “former U.S. officials familiar with the matter,” that a whistleblower from within the intelligence community issued an official complaint pertaining to a phone call between Trump and a foreign leader.
The Wall Street Journal added another layer to the story on Friday, stating that “people familiar with the matter” claimed that President Trump pressured Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky during a July phone call to launch an investigation into an incident connected to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
Since the story broke, Democratic lawmakers and those in the press have been inquiring about the transcript of the phone call, but at least two Trump administration officials have balked.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the following: “I think it would be highly inappropriate to release a transcript of a call between two world leaders.”
Also on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC’s Martha Raddatz that it “wouldn’t be appropriate to [release the transcript] except in the most extreme circumstances,” adding that “there’s no evidence that that would be appropriate at this point.”
While numerous Democratic politicians and commentators have been using the whistleblower complaint as a means to call into question President Trump’s ethics, with some even floating it as another reason for impeachment, some Republicans have urged caution.
Speaking with Fox News’ Bret Baier on Friday, House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said:
We need to know more facts. This is just being written in The Wall Street Journal. What did we see last week with The New York Times writing something before they had all the facts? The Director of National Intelligence … is going to be before the Intel Committee next Thursday in a public hearing, and I think that will be the appropriate time to find the information out.