Top Pence adviser was on Trump-Zelensky phone call at center of whistleblower complaint: report

A top adviser to Vice President Pence was on the call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that is at the center of a whistleblower complaint, according to The Washington Post

The Post reported Wednesday that current and former U.S. officials said a top Pence adviser was on the July 25 call during which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden faces do-or-die primary in South Carolina Democrats view Sanders as having best shot to defeat Trump: poll Karl Rove: 'Long way to go' for Sanders to capture nomination: 'The field is splintered' MORE's dealings in Ukraine.

Pence should have had access to a transcript of the call within hours, officials told the paper. 

White House officials told the Post the vice president likely would have received detailed notes from the call in his briefing book a day later and that the document should have been part of the briefing materials he took to prepare for a meeting in Warsaw with Zelensky on Sept 1.


Officials close to Pence told the Post the vice president traveled to Poland for the meeting without having read or fully registered the transcript of the call. Officials close to Pence also insist the vice president was unaware of Trump’s push for Ukraine to investigate Biden, a leading 2020 candidate, the Post reported. 

The Post also reported, citing officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, that Trump asked Pence not to attend Zelensky's inauguration in May. 

During his meeting with Zelensky, Pence did not mention Biden, according to the report. But former officials told the Post that Pence's emphasis on corruption may have been interpreted as a “code” for the issue, possibly unintentional on Pence’s part.

A top Pence staffer rejected the assertion that Pence was relaying a coded message to Zelensky. 

“The president consistently raised concerns about corruption and the lack of burden sharing by European partners, so having run on an anti-corruption campaign, Zelensky was receptive to those messages,”  Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, told the Post. “The vice president, as your reporting says, reported back to the president after the meeting and the aid was released.” 

A spokesperson for Pence was not immediately available for comment in response to the Post’s report.

A partial memo of Trump’s call with Zelensky that was released by the White House shows the president asking the foreign leader to investigate Biden, but Trump continues to defend the call as being appropriate. 

The whistleblower also alleges the Trump administration directed officials to place a transcript of the call on a highly classified server. 

The House launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump after the allegations regarding the Ukrainian scandal emerged.