FILE- In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Committee on Intelligence, pauses while speaking during a media availability after a closed-door meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. Two weeks after President Donald Trump blocked its full release, the House Intelligence Committee published on Saturday, Feb. 24, a partially blacked-out version of a classified Democratic memo aiming to counter a GOP narrative that the FBI and Justice Department conspired against Trump as they investigated his ties to Russia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
This broke late last night. It was so late that getting any real information or reaction to go on was nearly impossible, as most people were a sleep. It seems the story is still in the same place this morning.
What this centers on is Kurt Volker’s testimony, which I shared initial reactions to yesterday. The demeanor after the testimony and Adam Schiff’s behavior during it left the impression that he was scrambling. Apparently he was, as he and the other Democrat chairs decided to cherry pick some text messages to release last night in order to try to regain the upper hand.
Let’s take a look at them and talk about what they may or may not mean.
THE TERMS OF THE DEAL, as understood by both sides:
ZELENSKY would publicly commit to investigating a BIDEN-linked company & claims about Ukrainian meddling to help @HillaryClinton in 2016.
— & in exchange —
TRUMP would give ZELENSKY the @WhiteHouse visit he coveted. pic.twitter.com/uJ2JHuD5Rh
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) October 4, 2019
There’s a ton of editorializing going on here by Vogel, who is supposed to be a reporter. What deal is he talking about? There’s no actual deal spelled out here in this purposely curated text exchange (it was obviously longer than two messages). Pay attention to the dates because they are important. This one happened on August 10th, before Ukraine even knew about aid being held up, i.e. that’s not a factor here. The goal posts have now moved to Ukraine getting a White House visit, which seems like quit the walk down by Democrats. But there’s actually no direct mention of reciprocity at all here.
But, I want to be fair, so lets say that the Trump administration did ask them to look into corruption (which they have already admitted). What was the implication of the ask here in this text exchange? It was to look into Burisma, a known corrupt company, and to look into 2016 election meddling, which we know happened in Ukraine with the Hillary campaign. I’ve been assured for years that election meddling is of the utmost importance to get to the bottom of so why is that suddenly bad?
And to be clear, there’s no mention of Joe Biden in any of the text messages. Investigating Burisma is not off limits just because Democrats say it is.
Here’s another one people are really pushing this morning.
WHAT WAS SAID ON THIS PHONE CALL?
Career U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor: "Are we now saying that security assistance & WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?"
TRUMP donor/ambassador Gordon Sondland: "Call me" pic.twitter.com/CsE0g6c1uk
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) October 4, 2019
The first text there is actually good news for Trump. It shows (as we’ve reported) that the Ukrainians did not even know aid was being withheld, therefore there can’t be a quid pro quo involving it. That takes a major, major part of the Democrat narrative off the table.
But it’s the second text some are latching onto. Bill Taylor, as we’ll see in one more text coming up, is the lightening rod in this. Here, he seems to suggest there were conditions placed on the aid, even though we know from the previous exchange that’s not true. All Sondland says in response is “Call me.” This led to all kinds of assumptions being made. One of the common ones I saw last night is that if Sondland wasn’t hiding something, he’d have just said no in the text. I think that’s citing facts not in evidence. Perhaps he just wanted to better explain everything over the phone instead of writing a 500 word text message? The point being, there’s nothing here at all except pure supposition.
Finally, there was this text, which is probably the one that will end up pushed the most by both sides.
This is quite the exchange:
Taylor: "As I said on the phone, **I think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.**"
Sondland: No, you're incorrect… Trump doesn't want a quid pro quo… "I suggest we stop the back and forth by text." pic.twitter.com/9pIsMCejer
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) October 4, 2019
The mention of a political campaign here is the eye catcher, but we are again left wondering where Taylor is getting his assumptions from. Further, Sondland goes on to completely disabuse him of his notion there was any quid pro quo. Many on the left are trying to discount the last message, asserting it was written purposely to push back on what Taylor said and get that on record. The problem with that is that Democrats are now wanting you to interpret the “true meaning” of a text by asserting it means the opposite of what it actually says. Does that sound dispositive to anyone? The message says what it is says, and it says there is no quid pro quo.
Here’s the biggest thing here though. All of these text messages lack context.
This unilateral and cherry-picked release by the Democrats is a desperate attempt to further their failing impeachment narrative and skew the story.
This information cannot possibly be understood without Volker’s explanations from today’s testimony. https://t.co/1WFsazEtEa
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) October 4, 2019
Yet, the Democrats are refusing to release Volker’s testimony and instead chose to roll out cherry-picked text messaged. Does that sound suspicious to anyone? It’s almost like we’ve seen this game played before and that everyone should probably wait before freaking out.
I got into a bit of a back and forth last night with The Reagan Battalion over this. I never got an answer to my last question, but it’s pretty relevant in my opinion.
Same exact thing we heard two weeks ago. Then the full transcript was released. These snippets are being released by Democrat chairs. You think just maybe they might not be showing you the whole picture?
— Bonchie (@bonchieredstate) October 4, 2019
Adam Schiff and company could relieve me of my suspicions by simply releasing the full transcript of Volker’s testimony. Let’s see how he addressed these messages. Republican Congressional members are out there saying that there is a lot of context missing here and that what we are seeing right now is painting a false picture. If they are lying, then Democrats should have no problem calling their bluff, right? The fact that they haven’t done so is telling.
Here’s what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to take text messages personally chosen by Adam Schiff as proof of anything, especially when he’s clearly trying to hide the full context of the situation. Some conservative outlets may choose to rush and make early judgements here (again), but I’m not playing this game because it’s too obvious at this point. Let’s get every piece of information out there, and then we’ll talk about what’s damning or not.
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