What Zelensky Said

Matt Shuham at TPM:

The White House’s memorandum of the July 25 call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky put words in the Ukrainian president’s mouth that he never said, a White House official testified this week.

The official was Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Vindman testified some of the conversation between the leaders had been ommitted in the memorandum of the call released by the White House.

But the Post’s report goes further: Not only did the record omit words of Zelensky’s regarding the natural gas company on whose board Joe Biden’s son sat, it also included a new phrase in its place that the Ukraininan President never said.

During the call, according to Vindman’s reported testimony, Zelensky referred to the natural gas company by its name, Burisma, and acknowledged that Trump wanted the Bidens to be investigated.

Instead, the White House memorandum reflects the leader saying to Trump, “the company that you mentioned in this issue.”

If they were going to fabricate a conversation, they might at least have left the Bidens out of it entirely. As Charles Pierce wrote at the time, “Jesus H. Christ on work-release, this is what they thought they could put out there?” Only Trump could be inept enough to fabricate evidence and still implicate himself.

I’m still suspicious of a lot of the words the memo of the July 25 attribute to Zelensky. I wrote when the memo was released that “It sounds too much like what Trump would have wanted Zelensky to say.” Passages like this …

I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to ·tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic·partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly. That I can assure you.

… that President Zelensky is said to have said just sounds like Trump to me, albeit with grammar and syntax corrected.

DALLAS, TX – SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)