Trump insisted that the rough transcript of his Zelensky conversation left nothing out. He might have ‘set the trap for himself’ by doing so

Trump insisted that the rough transcript of his Zelensky conversation left nothing out. He might have ‘set the trap for himself’ by doing so
Zelensky and Trump Screengrab

The word “rough” has often been used to describe the transcript of President Donald Trump’s now-infamous July 25 phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump, however, has insisted that it was a full transcript of the conversation. And Washington Post reporter Philip Bump, in an October 30 article, explains why Trump might have “set the trap for himself” by doing so.


The bottom of the page of the transcript, Bump notes, states that the missive is “not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.” But on October 11, Trump insisted that it was “an exact transcript of my call, done by very talented people that do this.”

Trump also claimed, “The transcript is a perfect transcript. There shouldn’t be any further questions.”

But when Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman testified before members of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, Bump points out, it was obvious that the transcript didn’t capture 100% of the conversation word for word. Vindman’s testimony, Bump observes, “reportedly included a description of elements of the call that didn’t make it into the transcript.”

Vindman’s testimony, according to Bump, raises the question: “why did Trump make his assertion in the first place” that the transcript was a complete one? And Bump offers some explanations.

“By presenting the transcript as complete, Trump could then argue that there was nothing more to reveal,” Bump writes. “Subpoenas of staffers? Why? You have the complete transcript sitting right in front of you!”

Bump adds, “That he released the rough transcript became a point of defense for Trump among his supporters: why would he do that if he weren’t confident he would be exonerated? And, as you see, there’s no quid pro quo in the document!”

Vindman’s testimony, however, “exposed…. how hollow Trump’s claims about the transcript really were,” according to Bump. Nonetheless, Bump stresses, Trump’s hardcore defenders automatically believe anything he has to say — and his misleading claims about the transcript are a perfect example of their gullibility.

“Trump has learned over the past four years that it doesn’t matter what he says,” Bump observes. “Whatever claim he makes, whatever defenses he offers, whatever alterations he has to make down the line are all just chaff. They’re clumps of Play-Doh thrown into a large lump. If a recording of the call suddenly became public in which Trump tells Zelensky that he’ll give Ukraine Pennsylvania in exchange for an investigation of (former Vice President Joe) Biden and his son Hunter, it would take about 24 hours for his most fervent defenders to mush that into their existing framework.”

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