President Trump claims he will release a full, unredacted transcript of his call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, but that won’t tell us the full story.
In the wake of reporting on a whistleblower complaint regarding a call President Trump had with with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the President on Tuesday said he would release a full, unredacted transcript of his call. This will likely tell us very little, or at best show the call in the best possible light.
The problem is there are no true transcripts of Presidential calls, because there haven’t been recordings of Presidential calls since the 1970’s, when Richard Nixon was taken down due to recordings he’d had made of nearly all his conversations.
At best there were multiple note takers, but possibly as few as one, working to get down the gist of what was discussed, but nothing like actual language or tone that might provide insight into the greater meaning behind the call. The notes would have been written up and sent to the National Security Council staff. They would correct any errors, possibly summarize or edit for clarity, and then that memorandum would become part of the official record.
There is simply no telling how accurate the rough transcript that the administration will provide will be. They have continually shown contempt for democratic norms and constitutional law. The best record we are most likely to see would be the full, declassified and unredacted whistleblower complaint that thus far they administration has refused to turn over the Congress, which they are required to do by law. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a letter delivered to the White House, “If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”
The President is being accused of withholding nearly $400 million in military aid while pressuring the Ukrainian President to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. The fact that Biden is the current frontrunner to compete against Trump in the 2020 election, has caused Democrats to push for impeachment on the grounds that Trump is abusing the power of his office for personal gain, by asking a foreign power to intervene in a democratic election.
Trump claims that there was nothing untoward in the call, but he admits he did discuss Biden with President with Zelensky and that they withheld the military aid in question. Trump first claimed that he asked that the military aid be withheld, aid that was approved by Congress, because he was concerned about corruption. Then a short time later, he revised his story to claim that it was because he wanted various European countries to pay for it. Curiously, when the aid finally was delivered, it was $140 million more than what they were expecting.
The good news, is that there were surely a lot of witnesses privy to the call, that could be called to testify before Congress, and in the case of an official Impeachment inquiry, could be compelled to testify with dire consequences if they failed to, or if they were found to have misled or lied to the committee in anyway.