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Trump tells made-up story mentioning Zelenskyy at voter meeting – CNN

Monday, 18 March 2024, 01:12
Trump tells made-up story mentioning Zelenskyy at voter meeting – CNN
Donald Trump during a speech in Ohio. Photo: Getty Images

Former US President Donald Trump told an utterly made-up story on Saturday (16 March) of how he allegedly outsmarted his Democratic opponents by releasing a "tape" of a 2019 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that became a critical factor in Trump's first impeachment.

Source: CNN

Details: In a speech at a campaign rally in Ohio on Saturday, Trump claimed that he allowed Democrats to make "wilder and wilder" claims about what he said to Zelenskyy, "and then we released the tape".


Trump claimed that when Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, "heard" the recording, she was furious that she had been deceived by her allies' earlier "false" descriptions of the call; he claimed that Pelosi told "her people": "What the hell did you get me into? You hear this call? He didn’t do any of this stuff!"

Trump further said that Pelosi was supposedly told, "Let’s just pretend he did and keep going forward."

CNN checked the facts: Trump's story is a complete invention. No recording of his conversation with Zelenskyy has ever been released. Pelosi could not have been angry with her allies after listening to the conversation recording as she had never heard the recording. In fact, there was no known recording of the call from the US side nearly five years after the July 2019 call.


The Trump White House released a rough written transcript of the conversation in September 2019, which actually corroborated, rather than contradicted, the core claims made by a government whistleblower regarding what Trump said.

On Sunday [17 March], Pelosi's spokesman, Aaron Bennett, stressed that Trump's story was "fact-free nonsense".

The US side usually does not record phone calls between the US president and foreign leaders. Instead, they are inexactly recorded in writing by software and US officials who listen in.

Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who was one of the officials who listened to Trump's conversation with Zelenskyy while serving as the top Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council (and who later became a crucial witness in the impeachment investigation), told CNN in a text message on Sunday that there is "no recording" of the call. "He's lying," Vindman said.

Trump's new story echoes his false claims from the time of his presidency.

Since late 2019, Trump has been trying to tweak the reality of a phone call with Zelenskyy in which, after Zelenskyy said Ukraine wanted to purchase weapons from the US, Trump pushed him to investigate Joe Biden, then Trump's potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 presidential election, and to explore a baseless conspiracy theory about Ukraine's alleged interference in the 2016 election (which was meddled in by Russia).

The bogus story Trump told at his Saturday rally was a more dramatic version of a lie he delivered over four years ago, which CNN had verified for accuracy at the time.

Background: Following the outcry over Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Trump has been accused of pressuring Zelenskyy to assist him in the fight against Trump's political rival, Joe Biden.

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