On Wednesday, the White House released a partial transcript of a conversation between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine, hoping to dissipate suspicions that the president had demanded dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for military aid. Democrats have launched an impeachment investigation over the allegations.
But the transcript only raised more questions. Even though Trump does not explicitly ask for dirt in exchange for cash, the transcript hardly exonerates him. Writing in the Daily Beast, columnist Matt Lewis outlines why the transcript doesn't prove Trump innocent of wrongdoing.
"What to say about the transcript? First, it’s not verbatim," Lewis writes. "I’m not suggesting that there is a Nixonian 'missing tape' here, but let’s not forget how misleading the Barr memo was when compared to the Mueller report."
Lewis points out that the story is incomplete without the whistleblower's complaint, which launched the controversy.
"Second, we have yet to see the complete unredacted whistleblower complaint. What we do know about it is that the Inspector General of the intelligence community deemed it to be 'urgent' and 'serious.'"
He also notes that the transcript is an extremely limited record of Trump's dealings with the president of Ukraine.
"Third, the transcript covers one phone call. We do not know if there were other calls with Trump—or his associates. What we do know is that Trump suggests that President Volodymyr Zelensky should cooperate with Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, and take a call from Attorney General Barr, when they reach out to him. In fact, this is a central theme of the transcript."
He observes that Republicans are being hypocritical in their continued support of Trump, given their likely reactions if Barack Obama had been accused of something this serious.
"If Barack Obama had done anything this egregious, Republicans would be echoing my sentiments," he concludes. "At this point, any Republican defending Trump is probably beyond redemption."