A Tale of Two Calls

For once, the truth might really be somewhere in the middle.

 So, today Trump released a memo of a short, congratulatory call he made to the president-elect of Ukraine, before the man actually held office and had any power. He had been hyping this up for a while now, acting as though this call would be some kind of final proof of his innocence. I fully expect him to act, in the coming days, as though Democrats had been clamoring for this call in particular to be released and then were disappointed and confused when it turned out to be nothing.

While the transcript contains very little of interest, it is interesting for what it doesn't contain. It doesn't contain any mention of corruption or working together to fight it. It also doesn't contain any mention of Ambassador Yovanovitch, which is notable since in the original "perfect call" Donald thanked President Zelensky for having warned him about her. So what Donald has proven with this release is that there was more consequential communication between the two in between these conversations.

And in fact, in between when I wrote his entry and when I sent it back, Donald confirmed this:

Heads of state communicating isn't suspicious or remarkable in and of itself, but that Trump had to go all the way back to a run-of-the-mill, formulaic congratulation call before the man even had any power in order to find a call he could release as a distraction.

Devin Nunes read the memo of the congratulatory call into the record as part of his opening statement today. Is the Republican strategy to talk this call up in the hopes of creating the impression that this is the real "perfect call" that Trump has been talking about and the shady stuff was only in Adam Schiff's "made-up" version they've also heard so much about?

As many pundits have rightly pointed out, you can't prove you didn't rob a bank by showing video of the time you only cased the joint. The memo does not prove Trump's innocence. It suggests he is guiltier than we know. He felt the original "perfect call" transcript was safe enough to release, and when that failed, he fell back on an anodyne message of congratulations as his new "perfect call". What happened in the conversations he didn't feel safe releasing? Through what channel did they occur? 

Donald's repeated mention of knowing how many people were listening in on the call and his habit of giving out his personal cellphone number makes me wonder if there haven't calls that wouldn't be memorandized. If that's the case, we'll probably never know just how blatant the wheeling and dealing was, or how much pressure was applied.

Donald frequently claims to be the most transparent president in history, but he makes this claim when reluctantly releasing snippets of slanted information he expects to be beneficial to him. He's forced into revelations that would either be routine for other presidents, or not even necessary because the thing being revealed wouldn't even have been done.

But he knows that many people will credit him with a partial truth when he tells an outright lie, and to the extent that they recognize he is self-interested, they will also assume he wouldn't be releasing these things if they didn't help him. So the worst interpretation for him can't be right, even if the best one isn't, either. "The truth is in the middle" is the maxim of people who comfortably live right there in the middle.

In this case, I do believe the truth lies somewhere in-between... that is, somewhere after the call memo released today and before the one that helped kick this off. We'll probably never know what was said by Donald or Zelensky in that missing conversation or conversations, but even that is a distraction that could benefit Donald if we focus on it overmuch.

The original "perfect call" memo was damning enough.

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