Former CIA operative Robert Baer warned during a CNN interview that President Donald Trump is going to do whatever he can to hide the transcript of his call with Ukraine from ever being released. He even went so far as to speculate that there’s likely a recording of the call.
In a panel discussion Sunday, MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin asked if there was a tape of the call.
“I think there probably is one,” said Baer. “The whistleblower wouldn’t come forward without good evidence. When you bring a charge against the president of the United States, you better be well-equipped to back that up. Now, I don’t know whether this was an intercepted phone call of the president of Ukraine or it’s a White House transcript itself. But I would imagine this has got so much attention, there’s got to be a transcript out there.”
Retired CIA chief of Russian operations, Steve Hall, explained that there isn’t likely to be some sort of clandestine wiretap or intercept of the call. It’s likely just the information that is typically collected in each call with a foreign leader. But more, he wanted to emphasize that the claim by Trump is an absolute lie.
“To your question about whether or not there was any quid pro quo, there may not have been an ‘If you do this, then I’ll do this.’ But the Ukrainians, for the past five years, have been at war with Russia,” Hall recalled. “Russia has been aggressive against them in the eastern part of the country. And the United States — they were hoping to count on the United States to help. So, regardless of whether or not the president said I’m going to release the money or release arms to you, the Ukrainians understand, they want to work with America — the United States. So, there would have been an implicit quid pro quo, if nothing else.”
Baer agreed with Hall that there is no so-called “deep state” the United States doesn’t spy on the president.
“But there are conversations that are picked up in the Ukraine that could have been the source of this suspicion about what Trump said or didn’t say” he explained. “A precedent – look, if the president has extorted a promise from a foreign government to fix an election in this country, I think it’s a crime. I’m not a lawyer, but I think it’s a crime, and it’s something that Congress should look at. Because if this president is going out seeking the help of foreign countries, we’re in trouble in 2020.”
He went on to say that the level of investigation will depend on how bad the complaint is.
“Knowing this president, if he made it explicit there’s a quid pro quo, he’s going to do his best to redact it or keep it away from Congress, because do I think this is an impeachable offense. But we do have to see the transcript. That’s absolutely key,” Baer said.
Watch the panel below:
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