UPDATE #4: Senate Republicans are apparently baffled that the White House would release a “transcript” that undermines their own claims of innocence.
UPDATE #3: Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) reacts in a very Lambornesque manner:
We must investigate the potentially criminal activity of Vice President @JoeBiden & his son Hunter. Last year, Biden bragged about threatening to withhold $1B of aid, bullying Ukraine to fire the prosecutor investigating his son. We must get to the bottom of this! pic.twitter.com/IXWny2A1y6
— Rep. Doug Lamborn (@RepDLamborn) September 25, 2019
You know that old expression about “missing the forest for the trees”? Lamborn isn’t aware of the existence of a forest or trees. No conscious politician ever wants to echo Lamborn’s thoughts on anything.
UPDATE #2: CNN’s Chris Cillizza:
“It ended up being a nothing call,” Trump said in the wake of the release of the transcript on Wednesday morning.
But what is documented, very clearly, in this kind-of, sort-of transcript is this: The American President pressuring a foreign leader to look into the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. And doing it by reminding the Ukrainian President of all the US has done for his country.
The transcript is truly stunning stuff — even from a President who has moved the goalposts on “stunning” a long time ago. If Trump thought releasing this transcript would somehow make Democrats look like fools for beginning an impeachment inquiry against him, he was wrong. Very, very wrong. [Pols emphasis]
UPDATE: Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is not projecting a lot of confidence:
“Shut up moron. Shut up. Shut up. You don’t know what you’re talking about, idiot.”
That was Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, shouting down a guest on Fox News who disagreed with him about the whistleblower complaint filed against the President regarding a conversation he had in July with the President of Ukraine.
President Trump has been promising for days that we would all see that he is totally innocent when a “transcript” was released of a phone call he held on July 25 with Ukraine’s President. That phone call is part of a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump withheld foreign aid to Ukraine until he could ask that country’s President to investigate some sort of made-up scandal involving former Vice President Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, the White House released a “transcript” (we use quotes here because the “transcript” is not an exact word-by-word account of the July discussion) of the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that absolutely does not exonerate Trump:
As the Washington Post explains:
President Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered to meet with the foreign leader at the White House after he promised to conduct such an inquiry, according to a newly-released transcript of the call.
Those statements and others in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were so concerning that the intelligence community inspector general thought them a possible violation of campaign finance law…
…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. [Pols emphasis]
The biggest new development from the “transcript” is the degree to which Trump goes out of his way to push for Zelensky to talk further with Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
The “transcript” of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian President is just a piece of what is thought to be a more detailed allegation from a whistleblower. Congress is pushing for the full whistleblower report — the White House is offering only a redacted version — and the person making the accusations may soon testify on Capitol Hill behind closed doors.
The uncertainty surrounding the whistleblower report has many Senate Republicans treading carefully in their pre-emptive defense of Trump, as Amber Phillips writes for the Washington Post:
That’s not a wager we’d be willing to make.