In a series of Tweets, Ben Shapiro defended the President’s call with Ukrainian’s leader.
Having read the transcript, thoughts on the Trump/Zelensky call:
The interpretation will be a complete Rorschach test. If you see Trump as a calculating gangster, this reads like a veiled quid pro quo. He opens by mentioning aid, then immediately swivels to talk about Crowdstrike, Biden, and Giuliani.
Meanwhile, if you see Trump as a fragmentary thinker and generalized blurter-of-things, this reads like a list of unrelated thoughts floating through his brain.
Zelensky opens the conversation by bringing up “draining the swamp.” He introduces the corruption idea, which suggests that he has been informed by his people of concerns in Trumpworld over corruption in Ukraine.
A lot has been made of Trump’s shifting rationale on the Ukrainian aid. The truth is, Trump has more than one rationale.
He explicitly talks about lack of European aid to Ukraine, for example (“All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about”) — and corruption was obviously top of mind. So he’s not lying about that.
Trump opens his “favor” requests by asking about Crowdstrike, the firm involved in the hack of the DNC emails. Only then does he move on to other topics — prompted by Zelensky – who first brings up the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, and who also first brings up Rudy Giuliani (“We are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine”).
These topics are originally raised by Zelensky, raising the question of whether Zelensky was actually attempting to create a quid pro quo rather than Trump.
This also explains why Zelensky, who has watched Trump conduct foreign policy for two years, mentions staying at Trump Tower: he’s trying to butter Trump up.
Trump finally shifts into the Biden ask (“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…The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution…”)
So is this him conditioning aid? That’s utterly unclear from the transcript itself. It’s bad behavior, of course — ugly and inappropriate. If you’re inclined to think of the whole conversation as a negotiation over aid, this is damning.
If, however, you’re inclined to believe that Trump is just bringing up topics with Zelensky in his typical haphazard fashion, there’s no quid pro quo in bringing up Biden.
Bottom line: this is the beginning of the inquiry, not the end. The call is not itself a smoking gun. It does raise questions as to what other conversations were had. And the rationale for holding back aid is the chief question when it comes to quid pro quo — the only truly impeachable offense here.
Today, after the transcripts were released, Shapiro added:
The whistleblower report offers very little new information. And that means that unless Democrats are willing to impeach solely on the basis of that call transcript, they don’t have enough. That only changes if someone testifies that Trump made explicit a quid pro quo.
It’s pretty obvious now why Democrats weren’t pushing particularly hard for the release of the whistleblower report. Their original push for the document was overwrought in the extreme once the White House released the transcript.
Concluding, So just to be clear, the big bombshell from the whistleblower report is that Trump covered up a transcript that he just released to the public yesterday?