First, it’s not a transcript. Second, it pretty much admits everything:
The call begins with Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election victory, but quickly devolves into the president pressing for an investigation of his political rivals and endorsing an apparent conspiracy theory. He seems to suggest Hillary Clinton’s private email server is in Ukraine and asserts that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation started with that country. He repeatedly says Zelensky should work with Attorney General William P. Barr or his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Giuliani had separately pressed Ukrainian officials for a Biden inquiry.
“I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it,” Trump says, according to the transcript.
He adds later: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. … It sounds horrible to me.”
Third, the non-transcript readout was vetted by Bill Barr and Sgt Schultz:
Career prosecutors and officials in the Justice Department’s criminal division then reviewed the transcript of the call, which they obtained voluntarily from the White House, and determined the facts “could not make out and cannot make out” the appropriate basis for an investigation, a senior Justice Department official said. As part of their reasoning, Justice Department lawyers determined that help with a government investigation could not be considered “a thing of value” under the law.
In a statement, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said that the Justice Department’s criminal division “reviewed the official record of the call and determined, based on the facts and applicable law, that there was no campaign finance violation and that no further action was warranted.”
Trump’s strategy is to hope that saying he did it won’t be a problem because, well, he’s Trump and he did it (?) I guess he’s so used to pretty much admitting all the crimes that he assumes that one more won’t hurt (?) I think I need to watch another episode before I fully understand this plot development.
I’m so old that I remember when “No collusion” was so important that Trump would say it at random times.
At least we know Trump isn’t play-acting for the media when he behaves the way he does. He is who he appears to be.
Among the absurd moves, it’s being reported that this readout (not a transcript) was vetted by Trump’s campaign before being shown to Congress/the public. Freakin’ idiots. They are floundering fools.
It’s always so sad to see a fading band go back to their breakout hit in hopes of recapturing that magic.
Seriously, I’m just confused. Trump worked for years now saying how important that principle was and – when given a chance to give a redacted recollection based on memory – he outright admits to colluding. Why would anyone do that?
Imagine having to be the person on the other end of the line listening to that stream of free-association twatbabble and wondering “WTF is this lunatic going on about?”.
The only time in my life I’ve ever felt even a twinge of sympathy for Clown Prince Flobalob was yesterday seeing him wincing every time American Tangster opened his anal-foreparts to utter words of ‘help and support’.
I feel that, going forward, all Presidential nominees should have to demonstrate some level of mental fitness. Call it a sanity clause if you will.
Someone here said it best the other day, “moderate limited hangout.” Look it up.
@Tony Jay: In this particular case, the thoughts are probably “how can I avoid insulting this fool. I need that military aid. Poker face. Don’t react. Agree to everything he says; he’ll forget it by tomorrow anyway. Christ, will this ever end?”
@zhena gogolia: maybe. Also maybe he decided to just see what people would defend him on.
Pedantically speaking, the operative jargon during the time of Nixon was “modified limited hangout.”
If I remember my history correctly (correct me if I don’t) before the Watergate impeachment hearings started, Nixon’s approval ratings were respectable, certainly better than Trump’s. Impeachment, being a process and not an end result, exposed Nixon’s trepasses enough to bring his approval down — and most of those who voted for impeachment, both Dems and Reps, from strong Nixon districts still got reelected.
This is the first day I feel good since 2016. I think the impeachment hearings will be politically a godsend. They will peel off so much moldy plaster that the 2020 election will give us both the presidency and the congress. What I hope is that the Reps will be held responsible because Trump and his crimes is their doing and they own it all. Perhaps — I’m hoping, OK? — Moscow Mitch did not block the Senate resolution over the whistblower’s claim because like the rat he is, he can sense a sinking ship.
What’s with this “not a campaign finance violation” business? Is their case going to be that foreign aid is a campaign tool? That asking a foreign head of state to manufacture dirt on your opponents is OK as long as you don’t use campaign dollars? Or is this just bullshit intended to confuse the issue? Imma see how this plays out.
CBCNW–They’re actually reading the transcript
OMG, the whistleblower complaint must be devastating, if the WH and DOJ thought this memo was exculpatory.
Graham did that stupid “Biden called for the prosecutor to be removed! Investigate!!!”
Playing dumb to confuse the issue.
FOX tells me the defense is no reference (in this call) to military aid….those no quid for the quo….that is the defense, and that is why this memorandum was released in the form it is in
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@chris: MSNBC has had Boozy McChucklehead on for a good five minutes– an eternity in cable TV time, especially with breaking news. Iit’s embarrassing that anyone could think an interview with Matt Gaetz would be worthwhile. Do they really think this is drawing in viewers
@Ule: Not just respectable–Nixon had just won reelection in a landslide and he was very popular. The thing is, what was revealed then is comparable to what we’ve known about Trump since day one. So I’ve always regarded Trump’s situation now as something like a floor, unless the economy falls in.
Nobody voted for (or against) impeachment, as he resigned prior to the articles of impeachment being brought to a floor vote. Republicans took a licking in the midterms.
“Everyone I speak to. All the Presidents. The Prime Ministers, but mostly the Presidents. None of them won the votes I did, though. Huge election victory, biggest ever. The Prime Ministers and the Presidents, they say, and the Chancellors. That’s Germany by the way, Chancellors. Not a lot of people know… that’s from Caesar…. not a lot of people know that. Now you know that. You’re welcome. They all say to me, tears in their eyes. These are men. Powerful men. They say to me. Mister President… tears in their eyes… they say…………..no collusion. Next question.”
Ladies and Gentlefolk, the President of the United States of Goddam America.
Anybody got a good one-stop link to explain the Biden business to Trumpsters hell bent on making this about Joe and Hunter? Getting deluged on FB with the newest “but her emails!” nonsense :O
Your memory of historical polling for Nixon is correct. The hearings were the beginning of the end. I can only hope that the same thing happens with Trump.
@Raoul: This so effing bonkers. If this is what they released, what did they leave out of it? Cause you know they removed the stuff that thought would be worse.
About to make my second call this week to my two Republican senators. Especially Hawley, who had the balls a couple days ago (after Trump said he brought up Biden in the call) to claim Trump didn’t ask for anything in the call.
@dmsilev: The Damned disagree. I think……
@LAO: “So, talk to my lawyer and we’ll make an arrangement.” Innocence personified, right there.
And welcome back, btw.
@dmsilev: Actually, I can sense a feeling of desperation with Zelinksi. His country is under attack by Russian, he is totally beholden to the US & other nations for protection–including monetary aid–and he knows he needs to find a way to please this babbling buffoon. Hell, he goes so far as to tell Trump he stayed in one of his hotels!!!
@Eural Joiner: Not off the top of my head. But multiple governments were calling for some Ukrainian government prosecutor to be fired because he wasn’t investigating corruption. Biden was the point man for the US to oust him.
It arguably put his own son at MORE risk because it actually meant things would be investigate, rather than not investigated. No evidence was found of wrongdoing.
Worst. Sally Field. Impression. Ever.
@Eural Joiner: Try this from NBC.
@eric: So blocking the military aid was just a coincidence? I don’t know what’s worse about FOX: them catering to their audience partisan stupidity or their assuming I’m equally stupid
@MattF: I’m literally gobsmacked. And, thank you.
He doesn’t seem to be winning the news cycle:
That’s from the NYT.
Gin & Tonic
Which was the position of the US Gov’t and nearly every Western gov’t at that time.
You are Burt Reynolds and I claim my $5.
You know what? I think he’s going to resign.
@Barbara: The only issue is whether Trump’s attention span could actually extend over that ‘also’.
Gin & Tonic
@JoyceH: Not in a million years.
@JoyceH: I would have never agreed with you before today. But at this point I think everyone (even Barr) know he is fucked. That is the only explanation for releasing such a damning ‘transcript’
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Gin & Tonic: In my mind’s eye, I see Lindsey Graham at three a.m., weeping in front of his father’s portrait next to an empty bottle of Southern Comfort, “Did you see how tough I was on TV today, Daddy?”
Who? The Tangster? Nah. Without the shield of high office he’s chum in a barrel.
No, it really is.
It’s a real-time transcript that was generated as the call happened, as opposed to one generated from listening to a recording – probably done a professional stenographer.
The disclaimer is saying the process is prone to error.
But, the quid pro quo is right there at the bottom of the second page. Z says he wants to buy more Javellins, T replies with “I want you to do me a favor [dig up dirt on his political rivals]”
It’s right there. Request for military aid / demand for oppo research.
My exact thoughts and IANAL. Barr certainly is, though. Why would he think this is exculpatory? He’s lost his mind.
@Tony Jay: He pardons himself as he walks out the door. You know he thinks he can. You know he thinks it will be upheld. (Not saying he will, but this is how he could.)
He’s just the kind of guy who wouldn’t resign, convinced that he’s right and everyone else is wrong (and, specifically, in this case, that he really didn’t do anything wrong because he never does anything wrong).
But he’s also just the kind of guy who’d decide he doesn’t want to put up with all of the aggravation anymore and walk away in a huff. It would end with some kind of “you don’t deserve me” rant. Also, he’d probably resign via Twitter.*
*That would be a potential problem, actually, as it’s well known that he’s not the only one with the keys to the account, so there would be some question as to whether he actually did it. And never mind the question of whether it would count if he did it on Twitter, instead of through a formal letter like Nixon’s.
@Tony Jay: but does he know that? Maybe his lawyers have told him that, but did it sink in?
All his life, whenever a situation got fouled up beyond repair, he just walked away. The thing he walked away from may have crashed and burned, but he walked out without a scratch and went on his merry way.
There he is in Trump Tower remembering the good old days when he could do whatever he wanted and say whatever he wanted and he wasn’t being badgered on all sides to listen to boring briefings or to say stuff on a TelePrompTer and not deviate from what’s on the screen. He’s not having fun, he’s not getting the praise and adoration he thinks he deserves and it’s all so boring.
From the beginning of his presidency I’ve thought it would end in resignation and people have said Trump will never quit. Trump ALWAYS quits. It’s his signature move.
The way the office in the nether regions of the White House which handles these task works (or at least worked in the past) is that a quick memo is prepared, which is what is made available to those empowered to see it. Later on a vetted transcript is compiled from the real-time notes taken down by multiple (usually 2 or 3, AFAIK) people during the call. There is no recording from which any equivalent to Rose Mary Woods can refer.
[Individual 1] mistermix
@cleek: It is a short readout of a 30 minute call.
Memorandum of Phone Conversation: call was 9:03 – 9:33
Estimated time it would take to say all of the words released in the memo: 11 minutes.
Checked by the great @mike_melia in our broadcast software (time of spoken words matters a lot on TV) from @NewsHour
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Barr theory of divine right of Presidents in action.
‘Walking away’ is the classic con artist end-game, so it’s definitely part of Trump’s behavioral repertoire. Still, it seems doubtful to me.
ETA: Replying to JoyceH.
The stuff Zelensky says sounds like Trump and/or Trump’s people wrote it. If this is the actual transcript…maybe Zelensky didn’t say most of that stuff? Draining the swamp, talking about his wonderful stay at Trump Tower, how he learned so much from Trump. Either he was putting the schmooze on big time (which is certainly possible – he’s smarter than Trump because almost everybody is and he’s knows this crap will get Trump all hot and wet) or most of the Zelensky stuff is made up.
Heck, maybe its real and they put it out there because Trump wanted everybody to see how much Zelensky admires him, looks up to him, aspired to be like him….and loves his hotels!
I would say that so far, the strategy of releasing the ‘transcript’ is working to distract from the obstruction crime of not releasing the whistleblower complaint to the legislature, as the law demands.
Gin & Tonic
@[Individual 1] mistermix: So, is there, like 19 minutes missing? 18 and a half?
@Baud: Among the many illuminating things about the readout: Indeed Trump is who he always is. And Volodymyr Zelensky pushes every obsequious flattery button.
Trump really is that easy to manipulate. He just eats that sh*t up.
The FGM-148 Javelin is an Anti-Tank missile, essentially the modern-day Bazooka. Why would Ukraine need more of these…oh.
Why would the POTUS use *these* as leverage for a favor. It’s not like he’d know Ukraine would have a pressing need for Anti-Tank weapons…oh. *Pikachu Face*
And why use the favor to put a stink on a Biden…okay, we know the answer to that one. Just kidding.
I’ve seen the Lions play better Defense. It feels like Shoes on Parachutes time.
IANAL but would that even be in the same multiverse as ‘legal’. President’s pardoning themselves for crimes they committed in office…. I can’t see even this Supreme Court upholding that precedent.
I mean, this guy?!? How long would the pardoning even take? He’d have to work the whole weekend, and all the signing! Lots of sharpies. 8-)
Wasn’t the whole point of one of Adam Silverman’s posts that Trump has generally dismissed those ‘two or three people’ from listening to his calls?
Internal white House discussion:
“Everyone knows a Jew will say anything to get his grubby hands on the money, so people will swallow this whole. Yeah, let’s roll with this.”
[Individual 1] mistermix
@Gin & Tonic: My understanding is that the note taker could have left parts out, summarized parts, etc. It’s just a set of notes, not a verbatim transcript.
@Zzyzx: On that, Lindsey Graham has performed his Trump mating dance, all shimmery and comely and hawt. So hawt.
@LAO: I want to echo the others. Welcome back!
You picked a fun time to return. :)
Enhanced Voting Techniques
@Zzyzx: To much kayfabe; Trump spent so much time in his reality show persona he’s lost tract of reality, like the Flat Earthers who start out as a parody and end up believing it because they get so invested in it.
@Gin & Tonic: congratulations! You’ve just completed the investigation! :)
Gin & Tonic
@[Individual 1] mistermix: Just aiming (apparently badly) for some humor around an 18.5-minute gap.
Of course! But impeachment is inherently political. Yes the Constitution says ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ but of course the House has broad leeway. The small-brain ‘tacticians’ in Trump’s orbit think that claiming this isn’t a violation of one particular law will somehow … exonerate! … him.
To that I cannot speak but it is a fair bet that office, like every other one in this maladministration, no longer functions as it was designed to.
Am I a fuckin’ genius or what?
Yes. There are very few things I’m sure Trump knows, but this is one of them. Using the Presidency to protect himself has been too active a part of his defenses. Many of his opponents have said that they plan on prosecuting him as soon as he’s out of office, including the one he listens to because he hates and fears her: Nancy Pelosi. He knows that prosecution is waiting and the Presidency is what’s protecting him. I can’t guarantee he doesn’t think he has a slick get-out-of-jail-free card, but he seems too cowardly to ride on that.
But he hasn’t walked away from being president. This isn’t about the job or the power. This is about the title. Narcissists have no internal validation. The title ‘President of the United States’ is the third biggest proof he can imagine that he is the greatest person ever, behind ‘dictator’ and ‘God’, and while he secretly thinks he’s God, he doesn’t have the general public calling him by that title, which is what counts. ‘Former President’ is not anywhere close to as satisfying. It’s an admission his greatness is in the past. He won’t resign.
No, it’s not a transcript. Lawrence O’Donnell had a guest on last night who supervised phone calls and transcripts of calls for the Obama administration; up to three note takers each taking their own notes, and then comparing, consolidating and producing a first draft of the call. These are hand written notes, not taken by a professional stenographer.
I conduct hearings using a stenographer all the time. They are highly trained and take verbatim notes. They also record the hearing. Despite their skills, I always caution witnesses to speak slowly and clearly and to avoid cross talk. Please don’t assume this is a transcript, it’s not. Not even close.
He does walk away when the shit hits the fan, but this might be different. He hates being president, but he loves campaigning. He’s never received the kind of adoration that’s heaped on him at those Nazi rallies he convenes. Walking away from that would be hard for him.
@feebog: Here’s an example of one of the White Houses “transcripts” compared against recorded audio during Chopper Talk.
Edit: you’ll have to click the link, but it backs up what you’re speaking about.
Also Trumpov is notorious for not having note takers at meetings (Putin meetings/his freak out with McGahn) so this is more suspect wrt not having a complete picture of what he said. Adam wrote about this last week (lack of note taking and how it fucks the US).
In the past he’s always had the protection of (assumed) wealth and (relative) fame, and the people he was stiffing didn’t have the resources or the sheer dogged stubbornness to pursue him through all of the courts. That’s not true of the Democratic Party, and once he’s out and Reverend Pence gets beaten like an egg in November it’s not true of the restored US Government either. Nailing him to the wall for the shit he’s done will be a national imperative*.
*And a ratings sensation!
@feebog: Here’s another example of the WH fucking with a transcript:
@[Individual 1] mistermix
They were instructed to leave out the extended bits which boiled down to:
“What’s this I hear about Ukraine giving Cher a Nobel. Can you get me one?”
“I understand you had a TV show too. Let me tell you about my ratings.”
@randy khan: @randy khan:
I’d be perfectly fine with that outcome. Even more so if he waved off with the Nixon salute as he left.
@NotMax: Here’s the thing I think about: As Australian reporter Lenore Taylor pointed out, Trump circumlocutes like mad. He wanders around for minutes at a time about this, that and the other thing in half complete sentences. I can imagine that the process of compiling the 2-3 note-takers, a ton of that sh*t gets whittled out.
But some of this incoherence may have contained half-complete thoughts that would have made things worse than this readout already makes them.
eta: Or maybe the eight asks reported to be in the WB complaint are different than this call?
After all the hoohaw coming from the lying Republicans, I thought that the “transcript” might actually be exculpatory. Instead, I see this as a smoking gun. Like Pelosi, I’ve now switched on impeachment. It’ll probably fail, but it needs to be done. Trump didn’t learn from the Mueller flameout – you can’t extort other countries to abuse our electoral process. This is pathetic. He has no respect for our democracy or for the rule of law.
it pretty much admits everything
It admits everything we already knew about the Zelensky phone call, and about which we were going to have independent evidence very shortly.
It doesn’t, to my knowledge, disclose or admit whatever else is in the whistleblower complaint.
We can estimate the magnitude of what’s in that document by the fact that the Trump people think this transcript is an anodyne distraction/blind by comparison.
all Presidential nominees should have to demonstrate some level of mental fitness
The ability to read with comprehension and write at a high-school-sophomore level would be nice.
@[Individual 1] mistermix:
the disclaimer on the first page tells us exactly what it is.
a ‘notetaker’ is probably a professional stenographer.
it’s not a memoir.
and it truly doesn’t matter. what’s there is damning.
From what I’ve read these phone calls are listened in by intelligence officials who take notes, not verbatim transcripts. They then compile all the notes to produce an official record of the phone call. Sensitive or classified parts may be left out; I suspect that useless fluff may be left out as well, or at least condensed to “useless fluff spoken here”. As far as Trumpf resigning, I just don’t see it. Perhaps if he loses the 2020 election he might consider ‘resigning’ days before the new President takes over in January, just so “President Pence” could issue a blanket pardon for what he’s done.
Moscow Mitch did not block the Senate resolution over the whistblower’s claim because
I think it’s because the resolution calls for it to be made available to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Chair Richard Burr, R (whom we now know was the person carrying information to the White House; we had thought it was Nunes)
Not the House Intelligence Committee, chair Adam Schiff. D.
Not to the full Senate.
I think it’s a ploy to keep the whistleblower complaint document completely out of the oversight of the House, which is doing the impeachment.
professional note-taker / professional stenographer, the difference is irrelevant. what it isn’t is a transcript from a recording – it’s the real time transcription of the call.
and what’s in that transcript is truly damning – Trump literally responds to the mention of weapons with a request for dirt on his opponents. it’s amazing they released it at all.
a good one-stop link to explain the Biden business
Best I’ve seen is Kurt Eichenwald dissecting Ken Vogel:
welcome back, btw
Extending this to at least one other former frequent commenter who I’m delighted to see in this thread.
Can we also punch all these motherfuckers too?
I’m so tired of this shit.
I think he’s going to resign.
Leticia James awaits that event with antici ……..
to dig up dirt
To Manufacture the appearance of dirt
This distinction is important.
For the purposes of this discussion, the reality is that the Bidens are completely in the clear.
No shit, right? This was the LEAST bad option for them right now.
The released version confirms what has already been publicly admitted.
It’s an incomplete version of the call.
Gotta know what was in the part of the call that was not included in the DOJ / WH approved & sanitized release.
IANAL, but my memories say that Article 2 of the Constitution says that the pardon power does not extend to cases of impeachment.
Ah yes, there it is:
That seems pretty clear, although the Roberts Court has astonished me before.
Adam Schiff is not distracted.
Neither is Nancy SMASH. “Tell your people to follow the law.”
@Gin & Tonic:
The classics never really go out of style.
that cracked me up. thanks for brightening a grim day!
WTF? Zelenskiy had to have been staring dumbfounded at his staff, making a “he’s lost it” twirling motion with his finger next to his head as he was listening to this. Unbelievable.