Greg Sergeant wrote this morning in the Washington Post:

President Trump is now openly calling on his Republican allies to produce doctored transcripts of witness testimony that will exonerate him.

Trump did not put it quite that directly, of course. But given all the known facts — and given everything we’ve seen from Trump over the past few years — there is simply no other way to read them.

It’s hard to imagine that even Trump’s GOP allies would attempt something so spectacularly absurd, and if they did, it’s even harder to imagine it would be successful.

But this episode nonetheless provides an occasion to deconstruct one of the most insidious lines of propaganda coming from Trump’s Republican loyalists right now — and, more broadly, to look at how this kind of bad-faith deception is supposed to function.

Trump tweeted this:

Donald J. Trump


If Shifty Adam Schiff, who is a corrupt politician who fraudulently made up what I said on the “call,” is allowed to release transcripts of the Never Trumpers & others that are & were interviewed, he will change the words that were said to suit the Dems purposes. Republicans…

Donald J. Trump


….should give their own transcripts of the interviews to contrast with Schiff’s manipulated propaganda. House Republicans must have nothing to do with Shifty’s rendition of those interviews. He is a proven liar, leaker & freak who is really the one who should be impeached!

This is a straight-up command to Republicans that they produce transcripts that vindicate him. What would that look like? We know the answer to this because Republicans have already told it to us.

What Republicans are saying about transcripts

For weeks, numerous Republicans have claimed that the publicly confirmed and very damning revelations about Trump’s corruption aren’t actually damning, because behind closed doors, the witnesses’ stories have fallen apart.

Republicans tried this trick to discredit Ambassador William B. Taylor Jr.’s devastating testimony. Taylor portrayed a situation in which Trump used hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded military aid to extort Ukraine into launching sham “investigations” designed to absolve Russia of sabotaging the 2016 election and to smear potential opponent Joe Biden before 2020.

After that, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), a slavish Trump lickspittle, called for the release of the transcript of Taylor’s testimony, claiming: “Much of his leaked opening statement collapsed, but Schiff keeps the public in the dark on that!”

Zeldin then broadened his case. “The public is absolutely being misled about every single deposition that takes place,” Zeldin told the Washington Examiner.

This would have to include Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified he was deeply alarmed by Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to smear Biden, and White House adviser Tim Morrison, who confirmedthat the quid pro quo involving the military aid did take place.

Another Republican, Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah, claimed it’s “extraordinarily frustrating” that he cannot yet share the closed-door details supposedly showing that witness testimony has been debunked.

This line has also been pushed by Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio). Here’s how the New York Times reported on that:

Mr. Schiff has an “absolute maniacal focus on Donald Trump” said one committee Republican, Representative Michael Turner of Ohio, who accused Mr. Schiff of routinely lying to the press and the public about what happened in private interviews, and conducting the inquiry’s initial hearings out of public view so he and other Democrats could distort the findings.

Let’s point out how ridiculous this whole line really is. First, much of the “leaked” testimony actually consisted of complete opening statements documented in black-letter text.

For all these witnesses, we have their testimony in their own words, not selectively leaked, but rendered as fully as they wished to render it. So we’re supposed to believe that under withering cross-examination from Republicans, these witnesses’ accounts were unmasked as unreliable or baselessly sourced.

This is verifiably absurd. Taylor texted his concerns contemporaneously. His allegation of a quid pro quo was confirmed by Morrison, who got it firsthand from Ambassador Gordon Sondland, a ringleader of Trump’s scheme. Vindman’s recounting of the call is confirmed by the White House’s own summary.

Yes, we know about some revelations from Vindman — such as the assertion that a White House lawyer stashed the call on a top-secret server right after Vindman raised alarms — from leaks, not his opening statement. But the White House itself has acknowledged that the call was buried in precisely that manner.

The bottom line is that the most damning revelations have for the most part already been confirmed in a manner that renders it logically impossible to see how cross-examination might debunk them. Republicans are all but certainly lying when they say the transcripts will show that the case against Trump has been sliced apart by their lacerating Clarence Darrow-like questioning.

But more to the point, we will soon very likely know this to be the case. The transcripts are going to get released.

That’s why Trump is now claiming Schiff doctored the transcripts, and calling on Republicans to release the “real” ones. But this, too, is monumentally ridiculous on its face. Many witnesses will testify in the open hearings phase. If Schiff doctored transcripts, they could simply say so publicly.

Indeed, we are going to hear all these revelations directly from them. If GOP cross-examination is really capable of reducing them to puddles of incoherence, Republicans will be able to show us so. Hint: That won’t happen.

So this is a nonsensical demand by Trump. In reality, Trump — who has a well-documented history of manipulating government resources to prop up his lies — is calling on Republicans to create fake versions of what happened.

But here’s the really important point: Trump and Republicans know they can right now inject the claim into the discussion that the revelations were secretly debunked, because the media coverage won’t return to this, once the transcripts show what nonsense it is. Note how the Times simply allowed Turner to float that claim, without pointing out its core absurdities.

Indeed, Trump and Republicans also know that once the transcripts are released, they can simply change the subject by lying about what they actually do show. They’ll do this knowing that their propaganda network will amplify those lies, and that all-too-many mainstream outlets will launder them by treating them as merely one side in a legitimate good-faith dispute over the transcripts’ content and meaning.

24 Comments Post your own or leave a trackback: Trackback URL

  1. Bob Shepherd says:

    Trumpism is a cult. One of its tenets: when reality doesn’t conform to the story, break out the Sharpies.

  2. Trump is them and they are Trump. The only good Nazi were in the resistance. It is time to acknowledge that 35- 40% of the country is and has always been the problem. Trump just gives them agency.

    • NYC public school parent says:


      And if you look at NY Times reporting in the Nazi era, before WW II, the NY Times went out of its way to normalize Hitler.

      It does the same to Trump and William Barr and the rest of the corrupt White House Trump apparatchiks. Bending over backward to give their racist, right wing propaganda the same legitimacy as facts.

    • Bob Shepherd says:

      And this is not new. There was a time when Hitler was holding up the United States, with its race-based immigration quotas and laws against miscegenation, as a model for the rest of the world. A great history of this period in the early 20th century:

      It can happen here. It almost did.

  3. Yvonne says:

    I can believe this:

    “Trump’s self-destructive diet: Psychiatrist explains how unhealthy food choices may affect president’s mental health”

    Plus, he’s TOTALLY IMMORAL, too.

    Trump and Hitler: A Juxtaposition
    “It is a sad day for our country when comparisons between the leader of Nazi Germany and the president of the United States are apt”

  4. Here is the crapola that Fox is spreading. No wonder there are people who think Trump is being falsely vilified. All they have to do is listen to Fox to learn ‘the truth’. DISGUSTING!!
    Steve Hilton: What the impeachment inquiry of Trump is really about | Fox News

    Democrats want to remove a duly-elected president because the ruling class hates Donald Trump. | Fox News

    …According to an independent Justice Department memo, this whistleblower is an anti-Trump partisan. His defenders say trust him because he followed the right process. But that’s not true. He followed the right process until his claim was rejected. Then, it leaked to the press.

    Read the document he wrote. He comes across as what he is – a pompous, arrogant bureaucrat who’s horrified by the idea that a political outsider could barge into his cozy ruling elite. Snooty establishment pearl-clutchers say it’s outrageous to disparage this person. That would never have happened under President Obama. Can you imagine?

    Well, yes — if your name is Edward Snowden. When a whistleblower embarrasses Obama, he’s vilified. But if he helps them get Trump, he’s deified. What utter hypocrites and charlatans these Washington establishment types are!

    Any journalist who uncritically accepts the claims of this whistleblower is allowing their contempt for Trump to destroy their judgment.

    Now, what about the alleged wrongdoing here?…

    But the idea that this call– and the so-called whistleblower complaint about it– is evidence that President Trump abused his office for personal gain, called a world leader to ask him to get dirt on his opponent, meddle in our election, and used American military aid as leverage to make him do it is a joke, a complete joke.

    It’s incredible to me that any serious person could take any of this seriously…

  5. The meanness never ends. I studied Spanish for three weeks in Guatemala. It is NOT a safe country. I held on to my purse and never went out at night. There are many kidnappings of children of the wealthy. School busses have darkened windows and a car with armed men follow the bus.

    How low can this country get? If I remember correctly, Jesus said we are to take care of the poor and starving. Mark 10:21 “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
    Oh, I forget. Trump is the ‘chosen one’ who will prepare earth for the last days.
    The US Will Soon Dump Many Asylum Seekers in Guatemala

    November 4, 2019
    The Trump administration will soon begin deporting asylum seekers away from the border — but not back to their home countries. Instead, they’ll be sent to Guatemala.

    Potentially tens of thousands of people who sought refugee status in the United States could be sent to the Central American nation, one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. The new policy is a culmination of the so-called “Safe Third Country” deal the Trump administration signed with Guatemala on July 26. The agreement stipulates that any person who traveled through Guatemala before seeking asylum in the U.S. will be returned to pursue asylum in Guatemala instead. As first reported by The Washington Post, officials in the Department of Homeland Security have reached the final steps of finalizing the deal, and its implementation could begin any day.

    In Guatemala, asylum seekers will likely face many of the same kinds of dangers they originally fled. In the last year alone, tens of thousands of Guatemalans themselves fled the country: In 2018, Border Patrol apprehended over 116,000 Guatemalans on the U.S. border. And according to a report from United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, 86,900 Guatemalans were waiting for decisions on their asylum applications in countries around the world at the end of 2018. Many of these people have left behind famine-like conditions in the country’s highlands, which have been plagued by a multi-year drought. Others have fled increasingly absolute gang control over poor towns and neighborhoods, as well as the Guatemalan government’s shockingly high rate of corruption…

    Check out this article:

  6. Bob Shepherd says:

    Every day, the Trump misadministration seeks out a new low.

    A random example:

    “On September 29, the United States joined Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates in opposing a Human Rights Council resolution that specifically condemned the use of the death penalty as a punishment for consensual same sex relations. The non-binding resolution passed anyway, with overwhelming support from Europe, Latin America, and other democracies around the world.” –Mark Goldberg, UN Dispatch

  7. Laura H. Chapman says:

    ….”a proven liar, leaker & freak who is really the one who should be impeached!””
    This is a perfect description of Trump but this is how he described someone else–Adam Schiff.

    Almost everything Trump says is, in fact, a description of his own character traits, his lies, his carefully staged leaks, his fears, and unhinged claims to being perfect, a stable genius, and master buildrer of walls, recently breached with power tools available at Home Depot.

    • dianeravitch says:

      Trump is a master of projection. Whatever he attributes to others applies even more so to himself. Nancy Pelosi, mother of five, recognized this early. She said that when he calls her “nervous Nancy,” it means that he is nervous.

  8. Bob Shepherd says:

    Would an orange jumpsuit on IQ45 be too matchy-matchy?

  9. ponderosa says:

    The GOP can get away with these deceptions about the closed-door hearings and the call transcript because they know their base will not and (in many cases)cannot read the actual transcripts. Thus the GOP know they can claim the transcripts mean the opposite of what they actually mean and the base will believe them.

  10. I didn’t hear about this one. This is REALLY BAD for the Trump crime family.
    Thom Hartmann’s blog

    Did Kushner Okay the Abduction of Khashoggi?

    Reporters for the Spectator are reporting that the House Intelligence Committee has seven different whistleblowers. Probably the one that is most troubling is a whistleblower, according to the report, who is saying that Jared Kushner told prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia that it was OK with the United States if he arrested Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Making it even worse, President Erdogan of Turkey, this report says, has a telephone intercept of Kushner okaying the abduction of Khashoggi, and says that Erdogan told Trump that if he didn’t pull US forces out of northern Syria immediately, they would make that tape public. If this reporting is correct, it appears that there is no depths to which the Trump crime family will not stoop.


  11. Christine Langhoff says:

    So this “spiritual advisor” now works in the White House. One presumes we pay her salary, ¿qué no?

    Here’s more from the NYT:

  12. The GOP wanted transparency and now they are getting it. Corruption is blatant. How interesting that Pompeo asked Hannity to cease attacking Yovanovitch and that she was asked to ‘Tweet nice things about Trump’ as career advice. Pompeo wouldn’t stand up for her because he was afraid of being undermined by a presidential Tweet.
    What a bunch of crooks.
    So this is why Trump doesn’t want officials to testify
    by Dana Milbank

    Now we see why the Trump administration doesn’t want officials to testify in the impeachment inquiry.

    Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) released the first batch of transcripts Monday from the closed-door depositions, including that of Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed from her post by President Trump at the urging of his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani….

    Yovanovitch detailed a Hollywood-ready tale about how Giuliani and two of his now-indicted goons hijacked U.S. foreign policy as part of a clownish consortium that also included Sean Hannity and a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor. Their mission: to oust the tough-on-corruption U.S. ambassador who threatened to frustrate Giuliani’s plans to get Ukraine to come up with compromising material on Joe Biden and the Democratic Party.

    Mike Pompeo has a cameo as the feckless secretary of state who refuses to stand up for his diplomat out of fear of setting off an unstable Trump. It all culminated in a 1 a.m. call from State’s personnel director telling Yovanovitch to get on the next flight out of Kyiv. Why? “She said, ‘I don’t know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately.’ ”

    Yovanovitch, overcome with emotion at one point in her testimony, said she later learned that the threat to her security was from none other than Trump, who, State officials feared, would attack her on Twitter if she didn’t flee Ukraine quickly…

    Ukrainian officials had told her to “watch [her] back” because Yuri Lutsenko, a Ukrainian prosecutor with an unsavory reputation, was “looking to hurt” her and had several meetings with Giuliani toward that end. Lutsenko “was not pleased” that she continued to push for cleaning up Lutsenko’s office, and he tried to meet with Trump’s Justice Department to spread misinformation about her — including the now-recanted falsehood that she had given him a “do-not-prosecute list.”

    She testified that wary Ukrainian officials knew as early as January or February that Giuliani was seeking damaging information on the Bidens and the Democrats — perhaps in exchange for Trump’s endorsement of the then-president’s reelection.

    When Yovanovitch was attacked by Giuliani and Donald Trump Jr., among others, she asked for Pompeo to make a statement supporting her, but he didn’t do it because it might be “undermined” by a presidential tweet. (Pompeo did, apparently, have a private conversation asking Hannity to cease his attack on her.) Instead of support, she got career advice: Tweet nice things about Trump…

    • I want all of these crooks in prison. Ahhh. The thought IQ45, Pompeo, Giuliani, Pence, Barr and the corrupt crime children in orange for 20 years is a dream come true.
      Federal law makes it a crime for an official to demand or threaten another party to obtain something of value — a definition that appears to cover President Donald Trump withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine unless its leader agreed to launch investigations advantageous to Trump’s reelection. The relevant law is called the Hobbs Act and violating its definition of extortion is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

  13. The NYT is again putting down progressives. Why not say what they are offering is the best vision for this country?
    The Warren Way Is the Wrong Way
    Her big-government plans would damage rather than improve our economy.
    By Steven Rattner

    A second problem is that several of the 2020 Democrats aren’t inspiring enormous support from nonwhite voters. Sanders and Warren win nonwhite voters by a large margin versus Trump, but not by the margins — especially in Warren’s case, The Times’s Astead Herndon notes — than Obama or even Hillary Clinton did.

    One crucial problem for Democrats is their struggle to appeal to white voters who didn’t graduate from college. In 2018, they won back a small but crucial share of these voters — much as Barack Obama had in 2008 and 2012, as William Frey of the Brookings Institution has written. 

    Jonathan Chait, New York magazine: “The poll contains substantial evidence that Trump’s party lost the midterms for the hoary yet true reason that Republicans took unpopular positions, especially on health care, and ceded the center. Rather than learn the lesson, Democrats instead appear intent on ceding it right back to them.”

    Democrats, in short, need to start treating the 2020 campaign with the urgency it deserves, because a second Trump term would be terrible for the country. What would more urgency look like? Warren and Sanders would find some way to acknowledge and appeal to swing voters.

  14. It takes a lot of nerve to face facts and totally deny them. This comes from the WH:

    West Wing Reads
    Pelosi’s Impeachment Rules Guarantee a Partisan Circus

    “A provision slyly added at the last minute is all but certain to deprive President Trump of the ability to defend himself,” Betsy McCaughey writes in the New York Post.

    “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists the impeachment procedures adopted last Thursday are ‘the fairest possible.’ Don’t believe it,” McCaughey says.

    “Section F, quietly devised by Judiciary Committee Chair Jerold Nadler, stipulates that unless the president surrenders executive privilege — a power even the Supreme Court has ruled is vital to his office — he and his lawyers will be denied any ability to call or question witnesses.”

    McCaughey calls it straight: “With a Senate conviction and removal from office highly unlikely, because real evidence of wrong-doing is lacking, the only goal of House impeachment is to damage the president.”
    “As I drove out of the White House complex Thursday and ended my role as President Trump’s special envoy seeking peace and normalized relations between Israel, Palestinians and Israel’s other Arab neighbors, I was both wistful and excited,” former U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt writes for Fox News. “Under the president’s leadership, we have moved forward to bring regional leaders closer to the long-sought goal of peace.”

  15. Yeah, Warren!!! [Also, feel the Bern.] I’m glad that climate change is being addressed.
    A Climate Denier-In-Chief Sits in the White House Today. But Not for Long
    By Elizabeth Warren, Guardian UK
    05 November 11

    The next president must rejoin the Paris agreement and show the world that the United States is ready to lead on the international stage again

    President Trump has now fulfilled his disastrous promise to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The agreement represents decades of work by both Democratic and Republican administrations to achieve a common goal: bringing every country of the world together to tackle the climate crisis, the existential threat of our time.

    President Trump surprised no one with his decision to withdraw from the agreement. It is yet another reckless choice in line with his steps to rollback our bedrock environmental laws, which have cleaned up our water and our air for decades. But that doesn’t minimize the gravity of his latest move. Trump is not only ceding American leadership at a critical juncture in the fight against climate change, he’s also giving away American jobs in the clean energy economy of the future – walking away from the greatest economic opportunity of our time.

    The science is clear: the costs of climate change are even greater than we thought. In fact, a reportreleased last year by Trump’s own government found that by the end of the century climate change will cost the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives every year. We are already seeing the cost of inaction here at home – bigger wildfires in California, record flooding in the Midwest and stronger hurricanes from Houston to New Orleans. And the global costs are even greater: climate change is making already unstable governments even less so, fueling international conflicts, and creating climate refugees around the world. It’s also spreading diseases into new parts of the world, costing more lives. With each passing year, the climate crisis wreaks greater havoc.

    But instead of acting to protect American lives and creating good paying jobs, we have let Big Oil set our climate policy in Washington…

  16. Reich: “Trump did it. Case closed.”

    Would the Founding Fathers Impeach Trump?
    with Robert Reich
    Nov 5, 2019

    Robert Reich

    Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains what the Founding Fathers wanted to protect against when they wrote the impeachment clause of the Constitution.

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