To See, Or Not To See — Trump Undecided On Whether Transcript With Ukraine President Will Be Released
President Donald Trump appears to be undecided on the issue of whether a transcript conversation from July 25, involving him and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, would be released to the public.
Trump has suggested that releasing the transcript would vindicate him, and prove that he did not ask for a quid pro quo regarding allegations that he withheld military funds from the Ukraine government in order to pressure that nation to investigate a political rival.
“I didn’t do it…when you see the [transcript of the] call, you’re going to be very surprised,” Trump said to reporters on Monday.
In other comments with reporters on the same day, and indeed within the same presser, the president was less sure about the inevitability of releasing the transcripts. “Perhaps you’ll see it, perhaps you won’t see that, it depends on what we want to do,” Trump said.
“Never before has the White House withheld the entire military allotment for Ukraine until the last days of the fiscal year, as Trump had done, nor has the president ever done so in such an opaque and unorthodox manner…” https://t.co/twbYbADOlE
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) September 23, 2019
An internal debate appears to be occurring within the White House. Although a transcript could prove Trump to be right, there are worries that releasing the dialogues between the leaders could set a precedent that is detrimental to future administrations — one where foreign leaders might not be as candid with presidents in such conversations if they are unsure that their words will remain confidential or not.
Though no quid pro quo has yet been proven, it was reported on Monday evening that Trump ordered his chief of staff to restrict military aid, meant to go to Ukraine, just days before Trump had a telephone conversation with Zelensky. In that call, Trump urged the leader several times to open an investigation involving Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, the Washington Post reported.
The aid money was eventually restored and paid to the Ukraine government earlier this month.
Several pundits and academics have suggested that the actions taken by Trump, even if no quid pro quo exists, could land him in hot water, with some even suggesting that impeachment inquiries should commence at once on the basis of Trump abusing his authority as president to hurt an opponent of his politically.
A majority of lawmakers within the Democratic caucus in the House now back impeachment proceedings to begin, CNN reported. Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, explained on Monday why he personally feels impeachment is worth looking into.
“People have applied many labels for this misconduct by [Trump]: bribery, extortion, blackmail, treason,” Lieu wrote in a tweet on the matter. “Regardless of how it’s labeled, one thing is clear: this misconduct by [the president] constitutes “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”