Wednesday, October 02, 2019

When Five Is Eight


This is not- repeat- this is not Nicolle Wallace's mistake. The MSNBC host (in remarks beginning at 8:02 of the video below) stated

Jeanne... I've referenced twice this reporting last Friday by reporter Rebeca Ballhaus, who wrote that in eight times in that conversation you reported Pompeo listened in on, Donald Trump mentioned to the Ukrainian president, his his desire, his wish, or his hope,his aspiration that the Bidens be investigated.

Wall Street Journal reporter Jeanne Cummings- not one of the three writers of the September 21, 2019 story- responded

Absolutely. We were told he kept- we were told that he just kept coming back to it and whne the President of Ukraine would try to move to a different issue, for instance, buying more military equipment, the President would find his way back to "yeah, I hear you, but" and he would again make a pitch that there is something wrong with what the Bidens have done and the corruption around them needed to be investigated. And so when the transcript itself came out, the whole world could see there it was he came back to it, over and over again.





This is why it is critical to label  the document which President Trump released as it was titled, a "Memorandum," or more generically, a summary.

In this paragraph of the "memorandum" the President of the USA suggests twice that Ukraine investigate the Bidens:

I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.

(1- "I would like to find out what happened" and 2-"I would like you get to the bottom of it.")

The next time Trump speaks- according to what has been commonly branded a "transcript"- he asks three (3) times for help from Ukraine:

Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.4 The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me.

(3- "I would him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what's happening and his a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.";  4-  "..... a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great"; 5-  "Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it.")

And there it is- five times.  But it is neither Wallace nor Cummings who is speaking out of turn. Ballhaus and two other Wall Street Journal reporters on 9/21 had written

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.

So where are the missing three times (i.e., 8 minus 5)?  There are three possibilities:

1) The WSJ got it flat-out wrong.

2) The "about eight times" really was five times.  However, this error would not have pertained to a small-town routine school board meeting but a conversation in which the alleged leader of the world's greatest superpower tried to persuade a foreign country to investigate a political rival. 

2) The "memorandum" was not a transcript but a summary, with the transcriber having believed it unnecessary to insert portions which, coincidentally or not, included at least three other times Trump pressured Zelensky.

4) There was at least one other communication, presumably a phone call, between Zelensky and Trump, in which Trump pulled his Cosa Nostra act on the Ukrainian president.

The Wall Street Journal is considered one of the greater newspapers in the nation. It would constitute journalistic malpractice if either (1) or (2) above accounts for the discrepancy. The transcript may not have been a transcript but a summary, and not a very good one. Alternatively, the White House has locked away records of another conversation between Trump and Zelensky. This might account for President Trump's surprise decision to release this fairly damning transcript/memorandum/summary, as well as Speaker McConnell's advice to the President that he do so. 

The difference between "about eight times" and "eight times" may be due to something innocent. However, this may be one of Donald Trump's greatest diversions of all, releasing something very bad when there is one or more things much worse, figuring that would satisfy the press and his critics. Someone should find out which it is.




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