By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The White House released Friday a memorandum it says chronicles U.S. President Donald Trump's first telephone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.
The record of Trump's April 21 telephone call with Volodymyr Zelensky is not a verbatim transcript, and the White House noted that it is based on the notes and recollections of staffers.
The call took place shortly before Zelensky formally assumed office, but after he won the post, and Trump spends much of the conversation heaping praising on the Ukrainian president-elect and exchanging pleasantries. Trump does invite Zelensky to visit the White House.
But he notably does not make mention of former Vice President Joe Biden during the short call, according to the memo, nor does he raise the issues of corruption or aid.
Those matters are at the heart of the House of Representatives' ongoing impeachment inquiry into the president.
Trump repeatedly pressed Zelensky during a follow-on July 25 conversation to open probes into Biden, his political rival, and his son Hunter, asking for a "favor," records of the call earlier released by the White House confirm.
The Democratic-led impeachment process is investigating whether Trump abused the power of his office in seeking to have the probes opened on hitherto uncorroborated claims of corruption, as well as the hold-up of some $400 million in congressionally-appropriated military aid.
The memo's release comes as the U.S.'s former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, testifies on Capitol Hill as the House continues it impeachment probe.
Yovanovitch is a career foreign service officer who was appointed envoy to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan before being sent to Ukraine. She is the recipient of a dozen internal State Department awards, as well as the Presidential Distinguished Service Award.
Yovanovitch worked at the U.S. embassies in Mogadishu, Moscow, London, Ottawa, according to her official biography posted on the State Department website.
She was ousted from her post amid a campaign by Trump and his top officials seeking her removal.
"Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go? Then fast forward to Ukraine, where the new Ukrainian President spoke unfavorably about her in my second phone call with him," Trump fumed on Twitter about an hour after the hearing began. "It is a U.S. President’s absolute right to appoint ambassadors."
During the call Trump called Yovanovitch "bad news," according to the White House's memorandum.
Zelensky replied: "It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador because I agree with you 100%. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous President and she was on his·side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough."