The Very Bad No Good Transcript Summary Of The July 25 Quid Pro Quo Call Isn’t Even Accurate (And Other Impeachment News)

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Ukraine, Trump & Administration, Trump ImpeachmentLeave a Comment

When I saw last night that Vickman was in there testifying for nine hours behind closed doors, I knew something big was happening.

Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed, revealed more than his opening statement suggested. He testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the rough transcript of the July call which omitted crucial words and phrases. His attempts to include them failed, according to three people familiar with the testimony.

Many have noted that “Burisma” is not mentioned, although Zelensky refers back to “the company”. How did Zelensky know what “company” was at issue?

And, oh, those ellipses…

So now, we are going to have to look at the original transcript (if one exists) and see if there is a recording.

NOT a good day for Team Trump again.

There were other shenanigans in the Vickman testimony as well:

Democrats and Republicans got into a shouting match behind closed doors on Tuesday while interviewing a witness in the impeachment investigation, with Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to out the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, according to five sources from both parties.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff objected to a line of questioning from Republicans during the deposition of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council official in charge of Ukraine policy, charging that the GOP questions were part of an effort to out the whistleblower, sources said.

Republicans pushed back, arguing they were simply asking questions about who Vindman might have spoken with — and that it was not an effort to out the whistleblower.

The back-and-forth led to a heated exchange between Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell of California and GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, according to multiple sources. Other members joined in.

Lawmakers said Vindman testified he did not know who the whistleblower was.

“What the Republicans are trying to do in there, very clearly in their questioning, is try to front-door or backdoor Lt. Col. Vindman into revealing who the whistleblower is, even though in his testimony, he said he didn’t know,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat. “They are trying to, through the back door and through process of elimination by their questions, they are attempting to get him to reveal that, and they have been unsuccessful.”
But Meadows pushed back on the Democratic accusations.

“How can we out someone when we don’t know he is?” Meadows told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Dumb question, Meadows. You don’t have to know who the Wizard of Oz is before pulling back the curtain.

Testifying today: Catherine Croft, a State Department employee who previously worked on Ukraine issues for the National Security Council.

Her opening statement:

Croft is among the witnesses called to give depositions behind closed doors in the ongoing investigation into the Trump administration’s Ukraine policy and President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Her statement:

She’ll be testifying about, among other things, how she received inexplicable phone calls from Washington lobbyist Robert Livingston, “who told me that Ambassador Yovanovitch should be fired,” referring to Marie Yovanovitch, then the top U.S. envoy in Kyiv.

Livingston, a former Republican congressman from Louisiana, was chosen as the successor to Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House in 1999, but he declined the position after revelations of an extramarital affair. After leaving Congress, he formed the Livingston Group, one of Washington’s most influential lobbying firms. His firm has represented clients in the Middle East and around the world, including political figures in Ukraine such as former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to Justice Department documents.

Also testifying today is Christopher J. Anderson, who preceded Ms. Croft as Mr. Volker’s adviser.

His statement:

Anderson will testify that former National Security Advisor John Bolton warned him about Rudy Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine in the early summer.

Bolton called Trump’s personal lawyer a barrier to improved relations with Ukraine in a June meeting, according to the prepared remarks.

Since we’re on this topic, here’s some advice from Jonah Goldberg to Republicans — Trump Should Admit The Quid Pro Quo And Apologize:

Trump and his defenders are still pounding on outdated, unpersuasive, or irrelevant talking points. They rail about the identity and motives of the whistleblower who first aired these allegations, even though the whistleblower’s report has been largely corroborated by others. They claim that the process of the Democratic inquiry in the House is unconstitutional, which is ridiculous. They insist that hearings where Republicans can cross-examine witnesses are a “star chamber” or reminiscent of secret Soviet trials. Also ridiculous.

Republican complaints about the heavy-handed tactics of the Democrats have some merit, but they’ll be rendered moot when the Democrats move to public hearings or to a Senate trial. And when that happens, claims that the call was “perfect” and that there was no quid pro quo will evaporate in the face of the facts.

This is why the smartest Trump defenders are counseling the president to simply admit the obvious: There was a quid pro quo, and the president’s phone call fell short of perfection, but nothing he did is an impeachable offense.

As former federal prosecutor (and my old National Review colleague) Andrew McCarthy argues, by insisting there was no quid pro quo, the president made things much easier for Democrats. The implicit concession in Trump’s position is that if the charges were true, they would be impeachable. That is a burden of proof that no doubt warms the cockles of Adam Schiff’s heart. The smarter course is to admit it happened but, as McCarthy writes, “no harm no foul.”

I’d go one step further. Rather than take the Mick Mulvaney line and shout “get over it” — now a Trump-campaign T-shirt — the president should apologize. Trump’s refusal to admit any wrongdoing imperils GOP senators who are already reluctant to defend him on the merits. Once the process complaints expire, they’ll be left with no defense at all. Bill Clinton fended off removal in the Senate in no small part because he admitted wrongdoing and asked the country for forgiveness. Once he did that, he and his supporters were liberated to say the country should “move on.” It’s worth recalling that the first existential crisis of Trump’s 2016 campaign — his talk about groping women on the Access Hollywood tape — was averted by the first, and last, meaningful apology anyone can remember from him.

I disagree with those who say that the allegations against Trump are not impeachable. But, politically, apologizing could forestall impeachment by giving politicians and voters a safe harbor: “It was wrong, but he said he’s sorry. Move on.” The longer the president defends a lie, the more Americans will resent being lied to.