Fact-checker destroys GOP lawmaker’s attempt to rewrite what transpired during Trump’s 'perfect call' to Ukraine

Fact-checker destroys GOP lawmaker’s attempt to rewrite what transpired during Trump’s 'perfect call' to Ukraine
Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana speaking at the 2013 CPAC in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2013Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana speaking at the 2013 CPAC in Washington D.C. on March 15, 2013, Gage Skidmore

One Republican lawmaker is facing criticism for his attempt to rewrite the history behind former President Donald Trump's so-called "perfect call."

The latest fact-check is in response to a press conference on Tuesday, March 8 where Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was asked to recall what transpired during Trump's 2019 phone call to Ukrainian President and "consider what 'rethinking' he had done on Trump withholding of foreign aid in hopes of luring the nation to announce an investigation of the Biden family."

In response to that statement, Scalise said:

"Zelensky had called President Trump to thank him for the leadership that he provided. In fact, when Zelensky got elected, he said he modeled his campaign after President Trump's -- and ultimately he got the relief money he was asking for."

CNN's Chris Cillizza analyzed what actually transpired during the call which the former president described as "perfect," noting the first words during the call were made by Trump, not Zelensky. "Congratulations on a great victory," Trump said to Zelensky at the time. "We all watched from the United States, and you did a terrific job. The way you came from behind, somebody who wasn't given much of a chance, and you ended up winning easily. It's a fantastic achievement. Congratulations."

So, according to Cillizza, Scalise's remarks are flawed. Zelensky did not place a call to Trump to "thank him for the leadership he provided."

During the call, Zelensky also noted that saying, "The first time you called me to congratulate me when I won my presidential election, and the second time you are now calling me when my party won the parliamentary election. I think I should run more often so you can call me more often, and we can talk over the phone more often."

Cillizza also pointed out other notable Trump quotes during the call:

  • "I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing, and they should be helping you, more than they are."
  • "I wouldn't say that it's reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine."
  • "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. ... It sounds horrible to me."
During the call, Trump repeatedly reminded Zelensky of how much the United States has done for Ukraine, and according to Cillizza, "and how little, comparatively -- Ukraine does for the US." Then, Trump went in for the kill asking Zelensky to "look into the Bidens' activities in Ukraine."
Although the call was criticized at the time, Cillizza notes that it is far worse today.
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