Thursday, October 31, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said a document he's keeping secret would prove his innocence.

Over and over again today, including in an interview with the conservative Washington Examiner, Trump insisted that the "transcript" of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky would prove his innocence. In that interview, Trump said he would print T-shirts saying "read the transcript." He also said, "At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call, because people have to hear it."

There may be a transcript, but Trump has not released any such thing. Instead, he's released a memo summarizing parts of it, which says on its first page that it is "not a verbatim transcript."

White House staff, including a serving Army officer and Ukraine expert who listened to the call, have testified that the memo was edited to soften the criminal implications of Trump's demand that Ukraine interfere in the 2020 election on his behalf.

When those staff started raising the alarm about what Trump had done, other White House staff responded by moving the memo—normally unclassified—onto a top-secret server to prevent other administration officials and potential whistleblowers from finding out what Trump had done.

That said, even the partial summary contained in the memo is incredibly damning for Trump. Support for his impeachment skyrocketed immediately after he released it, and now outpolls not impeaching him in all recent polls.

Why is this a problem?

  • A president who had evidence that cleared him of impeachable offenses would have released it by now.
  • It's wrong to lie about things that people can see for themselves with their own eyes, although it could be worse.