At first, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Thursday that he was troubled by allegations that the White House sought to restrict access to a word-for-word transcript of President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine.
But a couple hours later, Johnson said he was totally fine and no longer worried at all.
According to a whistleblower complaint dated Aug. 12 and released on Thursday, a U.S. intelligence official accused senior White House officials of a cover-up, saying they “intervened to lock down all records of the phone call,” in which Trump pressured Ukraine to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
The whistleblower said in the complaint that White House lawyers “understood the gravity of what had transpired” in Trump’s phone call, and directed that an electronic verbatim transcript of the conversation be moved into a secure computer system used for highly classified information.
Johnson, the chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee, said Thursday morning that he had questions for the White House counsel’s office about the move to restrict access to the transcript.
“The one concern I have is the allegation that there is a verbatim electronic transcript of this thing, and I certainly wasn’t told about that,” Johnson said. “I was led to believe that what’s customary to memorialize these things is what we got.”
Johnson’s concerns seemed noteworthy, because until this point, he had seemed untroubled by the Ukraine allegations. And his comments raised the possibility that the White House risked alienating some of its allies in the process of allegedly hiding the evidence of the call.
But just a couple of hours later, Johnson said he had talked to the White House and he was no longer troubled in the least.
The whistleblower complaint “made it sound like there was a different transcript. I’ve confirmed there’s not,” Johnson said. “What we got was the complete transcript. My concerns were satisfied.”
Johnson was referring to a call summary of the conversation that the White House released on Wednesday. Despite what Johnson says, the summary was not a word-for-word transcript.
In any case, Johnson has also said he does not believe Trump did anything improper in his conversation with the Ukrainian president.
“It was a very gracious call. It was a very appropriate call,” Johnson said Wednesday.
This piece has been updated with Johnson’s latest comments.