If Donald Trump believes the version of his call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky now being released as a transcript is somehow exculpatory, then Trump’s mental state is much, much worse than anyone knew. To what extent this document has been massaged to make Trump look better isn’t known. What is clear is that the document that remains is absolutely jaw-dropping.
Just to start with a single instance, there’s the section where Donald Trump instructs the president of Ukraine that he was sending not just his personal attorney, but the attorney general of the United States to help him go after Trump’s political opponents.
Trump: … I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut down your good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giulliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former of the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I Just want to let you know that. The other thing, there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it … it sounds horrible to me.
That’s Donald Trump informing the president of Ukraine that Biden is “very bad”; that former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was “bad news”; and that former Ukraine Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who resigned in disgrace after dozens of scandals and who was considered to be “notoriously corrupt” by both U.K. officials and intelligence analysts, was “a very good prosecutor.”
And Trump not only says that he wants Zelensky to talk to his personal attorney, but also that he’s going to be dealing with Attorney General William Barr. In terms of an absolute muddle of intimidation, corruption, and the mingling of personal political gains with national policy, it is hard to know how this transcript could be worse.