WASHINGTON — Ukraine's incoming President Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly asked President Donald Trump to attend his inauguration during their first phone call in April, according to a White House rough transcript of the call released Friday.
"At a very minimum, we'll have a great representative," Trump says after the first invite from Zelensky. The Ukrainian president then offers the invitation four more times, with Trump demurring each time.
PHOTO GALLERY: See scenes from Day 2 of the public impeachment hearings in a gallery at the end of this story
There is no talk of investigations into the Biden family or the 2016 election in the call, which lasted about 16 minutes and occurred from Air Force One on April 21, according to the White House memorandum of the conversation. At one point, Trump vaguely says "we'll have a lot of things to talk about" when the two men met.
The rough transcript shows how determined the new administration in Kyiv was to secure a meeting with Trump. State Department officials have testified they valiantly tried for months to schedule a meeting but could not because of the president's feelings toward Ukraine and his desire to have politically-motivated investigations opened in the country.
The summary released Friday cast a spotlight on Trump's demands in the subsequent July 25 call between the two men and whether he used the promise of a face-to-face meeting as leverage. That pressure on a foreign leader is at the heart of the House impeachment inquiry.
"There's no word that can describe our wonderful country. How nice, warm and friendly our people are, how tasty and delicious our food is, and how wonderful Ukraine is. Words cannot describe our country, so it would be best for you to see it yourself," Zelensky says.
Vice President Mike Pence was initially expected to attend the inauguration, but Trump instructed the vice president not to attend, The Washington Post has reported. Eventually, the White House delegation was led by Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
In the first call, Trump invited Zelensky to the Oval Office during the first call, and he immediately accepted. That was not scheduled for months. After the inauguration, Trump told advisers in the Oval Office that Ukraine tried to hurt his candidacy, was a terrible country and to "talk to Rudy."
The rough transcript of the call does not match the White House readout of the call from April 21. The White House readout said the call underscored "the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." The readout also said Trump spoke with Zelensky about "reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity and root out corruption."
None of those topics are mentioned in the rough transcript released Friday.
In releasing the rough transcript, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president "took the unprecedented steps to declassify and release the transcripts of both of his phone calls with President Zelensky so that every American can see he did nothing wrong."
The White House released the summary just as the second open impeachment hearing got under way on Capitol Hill.
Much of the call was benign conversation between the two men. Zelensky joked that he would learn to speak English before their first meeting. "I could not do that in your language. I'm very impressed," Trump says.
At one point, Trump goes into a bragging aside about his own presidency.
"We have the most tremendous economy ever," Trump says.
He also reverts back to his business career to share some positive sentiments about Ukraine.
"When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine was always very well represented," Trump says.