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President Donald Trump stands in the Oval Office on Oct. 24, 2019. (AP) President Donald Trump stands in the Oval Office on Oct. 24, 2019. (AP)

President Donald Trump stands in the Oval Office on Oct. 24, 2019. (AP)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg November 19, 2019

Donald Trump gets Ukraine phone memo timeline backwards

President Donald Trump argues that his July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was "perfect," and that Democrats have distorted it to build their case for impeachment.

In an interview with conservative show host Dan Bongino, Trump said a false rendition of that call by House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., forced him to release the readout of that call.

"They never thought, Dan, that I was going to release that call, and I really had no choice because Adam Schiff made up a call," Trump said Nov. 15. "He said the president said this, and then he made up a call."

The problem with Trump’s statement is that Schiff spoke after the White House released the memo of the phone call, not before.

The timeline

Sept. 9, 2019: Michael Atkinson, inspector general of the intelligence community, notifies Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that there was a whistleblower complaint of "urgent concern." 

Sept. 19, 2019: Atkinson briefs the House Intelligence Committee in a closed-door session.

Sept. 24, 2019: House Democrats launch a formal impeachment inquiry. 

Sept. 25, 2019: The White House releases a declassified summary of the July 25 telephone call between Trump and Zelensky.

Sept. 26, 2019: Schiff makes opening remarks at a hearing with Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire was questioned because he had not forwarded the inspector general’s findings to conference. 

Featured Fact-check

Trump complained before about Schiff’s words

At that Sept. 26 hearing, Schiff offered a dramatized synopsis of Trump’s call with Zelensky. He described rhetorically the nature of Trump’s message to Ukraine.

Trump later latched on to Schiff’s words, saying he was lying to the public.

"Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine," Trump tweeted Sept. 30.

We can find no other version of Schiff describing the call before the summary emerged.

We reached out to the White House and did not hear back.

Our ruling

Trump said that the White House released a summary of his call with Zelensky after Schiff gave a false rendition of the call. 

The summary came out before Schiff described the nature of the call at a hearing.

We rate this claim False.


Our Sources

Dan Bongino Show, Interview with Donald Trump, Nov. 15, 2019

PolitiFact, Adam Schiff's retelling of Donald Trump's Ukraine phone call isn't treason, Oct. 1, 2019

Donald Trump, tweet, Sept. 30, 2019

PolitiFact, In context: Adam Schiff’s dramatized version of the Trump-Zelensky call, Sept. 30, 2019

PBS Newshour on YouTube, "WATCH: Rep. Adam Schiff's full opening statement on whistleblower complaint | DNI hearing," Sept. 26, 2019

PolitiFact, Timeline: The Trump impeachment inquiry, Nov. 13, 2019


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Donald Trump gets Ukraine phone memo timeline backwards

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