Transcript Is Bias Test, Not Smoking Gun
Transcript Is Bias Test, Not Smoking Gun
When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made her grandiose announcement yesterday of an impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump seemingly cut her off at the knees by saying that he would release the transcript in question.
This morning, the White House released the transcript of the July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. It can be read here. (And yes, there are already fake transcripts running around the internet, one thanks to The Daily Show, which actually tripped Joe Scarborough up in rather epic fashion.)
So, what does the transcript actually say? I do encourage everyone to read it for themselves, but Kimberely Strassel of the Wall Street Journal had a pretty succinct breakdown of the transcript.
1) Having read DOJ’s Trump-Ukraine release, here’s the real story: This is another internal attempt to take out a president, on the basis of another non-smoking-gun.
2)As to call transcript itself: Trump’s actual “favor” is that Ukraine look backward, to what happened in the 2016 election. This is a legitimate ask, since election meddling looks to have come from both Russia and Ukraine.
3)(Indeed, this is a big enough issue that we find out this morning that U.S. Attorney John Durham is looking at what role the Ukraine played in the FBI investigation.)
4)It is actually Zelensky who brings up Rudy Giuliani—saying they can’t wait to “meet him.” And it is Zelensky who references “that investigation,” as he goes on to promise that “all investigations will be done openly and candidly.”
5)Trump says “good” and expresses worries that a “good” prosecutor was “shut down.” Mentions “Biden’s son” and that Biden bragged he “stopped the prosecution.” Ends that bit with “It sounds horrible to me.”
The first read through is a complete let-down for Democrats. It seems they really thought that Trump was dumb enough to say, for all to hear, “you’re only getting aid if you investigate Biden,” and ALSO dumb enough to release the transcript.
However, that isn’t going to stop the left from them insisting that there has to be a “smoking gun” in this transcript. And they all got their talking points. There will be a running competition for the next few days of who can produce the hottest take that will mean the shortest path to impeachment.
I think Ben Shapiro had this correct:
3/15. Meanwhile, if you see Trump as a fragmentary thinker and generalized blurter-of-things, this reads like a list of unrelated thoughts floating through his brain.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) September 25, 2019
It’s all about how the reader sees Trump. Those who see Trump as an eeeeeeeeeebil mean dictator-wannabe will entrench themselves in their confirmation bias. And they’re going to twist the transcript to mean what they want it to mean. TRUMP WANTED A FAVOR!
I’ve seen a lot of people, including reporters, doing this. The “favor” he asks for is for them to look into the 2016 election hacking (“Crowdstrike”). Which is a completely legitimate request.
That is not the same as the request to look into Biden’s son. https://t.co/fu7zlB42P4
— (((AG))) (@AG_Conservative) September 25, 2019
A quick recap of what “CrowdStrike” refers to can be read here, but the bottom line is that the talking point being pushed yesterday, that Trump tied the aid money to Ukraine investigating Hunter Biden, does not come up in the transcript. THAT was the “smoking gun” Democrats were salivating over. It ain’t there, chief.
Now, the right is saying that Trump is vindicated with the transcript. And while there isn’t a criminal act contained within the pages, I must admit that I don’t like having presidents talk about investigations into American civilians – no matter how well connected they are – to foreign leaders. Does it set my teeth on edge? Yes. Is it any worse than this?
No, it isn’t any worse than this. The right was justifiably upset with Obama’s “flexibility” comment, but bad acts don’t rise to the level of impeachment unless there’s a high crime or misdemeanor or treason involved. The left can be justifiably upset that Trump would like to see the investigation into Hunter Biden revived, but it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment – especially if they can’t prove that there was a “quid pro quo” involved.
So, while the right and left hold fast to their positions, what does the middle now think? Well, they’re unlikely to be convinced by this transcript that what Trump did rises to the level of an impeachable offense. That, and the news that Zelesky himself is refuting the idea of a “quid pro quo.”
Ukraine's president says Trump could not have pressured him—and only person who can "is my son who is 6" https://t.co/mz12pxCDcz
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) September 25, 2019
Who does this benefit? Donald Trump, if nothing else emerges, because the Democrats look to have overplayed their hand – and the whistleblower is looking to also be deeply overplayed and partisan. The other big winner? Elizabeth Warren. Joe Biden is her primary competition for the Democrat nomination, and having Hunter Biden’s business dealings dragged through the news cycle is good for her. (Though she might not want to crow too loudly about children right now, either.)
Who does this hurt? Biden, obviously. The Democrats, yes – not just for overplaying the cards they were dealt and bluffing their way into the deck, but for the reminder that they also put the screws to Ukraine in order to try and “get” Trump themselves. The media, absolutely, as they continue to insist there will be a pony at the bottom of the manure pile because ORANGE MAN BAD.
The other big winner? The RNC. They reportedly pulled in a million dollars yesterday. That’s not just money that will go to Trump. That’s money that can challenge every single Democrat in a purple or red area if the evidence fails to materialize for impeachment. And if the transcript is all the hard evidence there is, then the Democrats in swing areas are in a world of trouble.
Featured image: President Donald Trump, taken September 4, 2019 (official White House photo by Shealah Craighead, White House Flickr account, public domain)