Last night (Tues, 24 Sep 2019) on MSNBC, the official in charge of such things in the Obama Administration described the process -- as I recall, he was in charge of the Situation Room. Of course, he could only describe the process he ran and he does not know how Trump is doing it.
First, no recording of the actual conversation. That went out with Nixon "for some odd reason". You have a small team (from the intelligence community, as I seem to recall) listening in and taking copious notes about what's being said. Then they compare notes and write it up together -- or else each does an individual transcript and then they compare transcripts and notes and arrive at a consensus of a final draft, which the team leader reviews. Eventually, they come up with the final transcript, which is not verbatim but which they all agree conveys what was said.
What's done under Trump is unknown. Previous presidents had a historian who maintained a transcript of every conversation the President had. One of the first positions that Trump got rid of was the historian, saying that he would depend on video and audio recordings for that. How that's working is anybody's guess.
ABE: That individual would be Larry Pfeifer, former Chief of Staff, CIA, talking about NSC staff working in creating the transcripts when he was in the Obama Administration. Right now, he's on the west coast feed of The Last Word with Laurence O'Donnell, MSNBC. I would assume that interviews with Pfeifer will show up on YouTube at some point.
quote:The complaint related that Trump held up the sale of $250 million worth of military equipment and the delivery of $140 million in congressionally mandated foreign aid until the government of Ukraine opened a criminal investigation against the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading Democratic contender to oppose Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Can the president of the United States legally ask a foreign government to provide assistance to his reelection? In a word: No. ... Yet, as if to flaunt the Mueller findings, Trump apparently personally and directly committed the crime for which he claimed Mueller exonerated him.
What was that crime? It was the attempt to solicit foreign assistance for his campaign. It was the manipulation of American foreign and military policy for a corrupt purpose. A corrupt purpose puts the president personally above the needs of the nation.
In short, the whistleblower alleges that Trump offered a bribe to his Ukrainian counterpart: Go after my likely opponent's son and you will get the $390 million in goods and cash that we are holding up. ... There is no such wiggle room for bribery. The Constitution is quite clear that "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" shall constitute a basis for impeachment.
Was Trump offering to bribe the Ukrainian president? The circumstantial evidence is: Yes. The transcript of Trump's critical conversation with the Ukrainian president shows he asked his counterpart to coordinate with American authorities to prosecute the son of his likely political opponent in 2020. That is the solicitation of something of value from a foreign government -- a felony.
It's important to remember that this is just Trump's latest impeachable offense among many.
The whistleblower complaint, as required by law for such complaints from within the intelligence agencies, was turned over to the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who instead of releasing it to Congress as required by law took it for review to the Justice Department that is now headed by Trump's personal lawyer, William Barr. Unsurprisingly, Barr's Justice Department ruled that Maguire didn't have to release the complaint to Congress because he didn't have jurisdiction, which is just absurd. That the Director of National Intelligence has jurisdiction over intelligence agency whistleblower complaints is as clear as day. Attorney General William Barr should be impeached, too, but I guess there's only so many impeachments a Congress can handle at one time.
Trump Aide Sends Ukraine Phone Call Talking Points to Democrats
Here's the text of the memo:
Symonds, Tori Q. EOP/WHO
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 11:21 AM
Symonds, Tori Q. EOP/WHO
What You Need To Know | President Trump's Call with President Zelensky
What You Need To Know | President Trump's Call with President Zelenskyy
Press reports have given currency to flat-out falsehoods about the call.
The transcript clearly shows there was no quid pro quo or anything else inappropriate about the conversation between President Trump and President Zelenskyy.
Myth: The President made a mysterious "promise" to Zelenskyy in return for Ukraine reviving an investigation relating to Joe Biden and his son.
Fact: There was no such promise. The President wanted allegations of corruption potentially involving an American official to be investigated.
Myth: The President offered a "quid pro quo" related to military aid for Ukraine.
Fact:There was no quid pro quo; in fact there is no mention of the aid package to Ukraine at all.
Myth:The President urged President Zelenskyy to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Biden's involvement in securing the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor eight times.
Fact: The President mentioned Rudy Giuliani only after Zelenskyy mentioned him first and referred to Biden in only one exchange.
What the President actually talked about was entirely proper.
President Trump asked President Zelenskyy to investigate any connection between Ukraine and attempts to interfere with the 2016 election, something he has publicly discussed in the past.
It is entirely appropriate for the President to ask a foreign leader to investigate any connection between his country and attempted interference in the 2016 election.
The President did not mention Rudy Giuliani or Vice President Biden until after President Zelenskyy had raised Giuliani first.
Only after Zelenskyy brought up Giuliani related to addressing corruption issues did the President ask Zelenskyy to speak to Giuliani and raised Vice President Biden's role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating a Ukrainian company that had Biden's son on its board.
When a high-ranking U.S. government official, like then Vice-President Biden, brags that he used his official position to derail an investigation in another country that could have impacted his son, it is appropriate for the President to suggest that the matter be looked into.
That is not seeking foreign "interference" in a U.S. election, it is suggesting that allegations of an abuse of office merit looking into.
The real scandal here is that leaks about a second-hand account of the President's confidential telephone call with a foreign leader triggered a media frenzy of false accusations against the President and forced the President to release the transcript.
The country has already been put through over two years of investigation by the special counsel into a phony Russian collusion story, six months of congressional investigations into the same issue, and now Democrats want to trigger a new round of investigations into fake accusations.
This case just shows another example of the "Deep State," the media, and Democrats in Congress damaging our national security by leaking confidential information in an attempt to seek political gain.
Let's be clear, there was no quid pro quo for Ukraine to get US aid in exchange for looking into Biden or his son.
Assistance to Ukraine was mentioned by President Trump only to stress how much the United States is doing and how other countries, like Germany, need to do their fair share.
The President has said repeatedly that he wants other countries to be pitching in more to help Ukraine and President Zelenskyy agreed with him.
These are unique circumstances that require the transcript to be released if the American people are to know the truth.
After Secretary Pompeo talked with the government of Ukraine, the President determined to release the transcript of his telephone conversation to end the wild speculation and to set the record straight.
The President believes his private conversations with world leaders should be kept confidential and made this exception in the interests of transparency because of the amount of misinformation being spread in the press.
The idea that someone can hear a second-hand account of a confidential conversation and use it in a complaint to start a partisan investigation fundamentally undermines the office of President.
This is just another example of the "Deep State," the media, and Democrats damaging our national security for political gain.
This complaint was handled absolutely by the book and it was properly determined that no further action should be taken.
After receiving the complaint from the ICIG, the DNI appropriately consulted with the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice.
OLC determined that this complaint did not fall within the scope of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, and, therefore, that the DNI was not required to send the complaint to the intelligence committees.
The DNI did not forward the complaint because it implicated significant, constitutionally based Executive Branch confidentiality interests and there was no applicable statutory requirement.
While the DNI determined that the complaint should not be sent to Congress, that did not end the review of the complaint. To the contrary, the complaint was given to DOJ for appropriate review.
DOJ officials reviewed the complaint in light of the legal issues identified by the ICIG in his cover letter to the DNI and determined that no further action was warranted.
Re: A Former Judge Explains Why Trump Committed a Crime
A column by former judge and now columnist Andrew Napolitano appeared at Fox News (In Ukraine call, Trump apparently personally and directly committed a crime) explaining why strong-arming a foreign government to do your campaign opposition research is a crime.
Republicans don't seem to understand the gravity of this situation. They were out in droves criticizing Democrats for starting an impeachment inquiry before reading the transcript of the call. What they can't seem to understand is that what Trump had already admitted to saying is an impeachable offense, as Napolitano correctly states. There doesn't need to be an explicit quid pro quo request since asking for dirt on a political opponent is a crime in itself. Making the request while withholding foreign aid is even worse since it is extremely unethical even in the absence of an explicit quid pro quo request.
The impeachment inquiry was needed to see just how deep this goes. The fact that the White House appears to have been part of a potential cover-up is going to make this even worse for them. If this happens to be a one-off request then maybe Trump can get off the hook by apologizing and showing some sort of contrition. However, if this turns out to be just one part of an entire campaign to get dirt on Bid through Ukranian sources then Trump is in some very hot water.
As everyone is now aware, on July 25th of this year Trump had a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which he is alleged to have used the threat of withholding promised military aid to pressure the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden (a potential Trump presidential election campaign opponent) and his son. Here is a link to a PDF of the Whistleblower Complaint.
Transcript of July 25th Phone Conversation Between US and Ukrainian Presidents
Here is a transcript of the phone conversation that took place between President Donald Trump of the US and President Volodymyr Zelensky of the Ukraine. It is not a verbatim transcript as the White House does not record such calls. It is a reconstruction based upon the notes of a dozen or so people who listened in on the conversation. It was not revealed which person or persons performed the reconstruction.
And maybe others, like whoever moved the "transcript" from the ready-to-circulate server to the extra-sensitive-classified server.
To be more precise, whomever ordered the transcript to be put on that server might be in trouble. I doubt lower level intelligence officers are going to get in trouble for following orders.
If the cover-up is true, it blows a hole in their current defense that they did nothing wrong. Be prepared to hear the phrase "consciousness of guilt" repeated multiple times during your evening news broadcasts. If you think you did nothing wrong then you don't try to hide the evidence. Basic logic.