(CNN) – In an interview with the Washington Examiner on Thursday, President Donald Trump raised an idea.
"At some point, I'm going to sit down, maybe like a talk by the fireplace on live television, and I'll read the transcript of the call, because people have to listen to it," he said of his July 25 call to President of Ukraine, Volodymr Zelensky. "When you read it, it's a direct decision."
That would be an incredibly bad idea.RELATED
Why? Well, for several reasons, the biggest of which is this: the transcript is very similar to a "smoking gun", the incriminating test.
In the transcript, Trump makes it clear that the United States has long since Ukraine, that Ukraine has not reciprocated, asks Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and the son of former vice president, Hunter, and says he will put Zelensky in touch with Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of Justice Bill Barr.
While Trump does not specifically use the words "quid pro quo," the question, and the surrounding context, seems fairly straightforward. We do a lot for you. You don't do much for us. Now we have the opportunity to help each other. So do it.
Trump never seemed to understand how dangerous the transcript is for him and his political future. Since authorizing its disclosure, he has repeatedly pointed it out as evidence that his call with Zelensky was "perfect."
Thursday morning, for example, Trump simply tweeted: "READ THE TRANSCRIPTION!"
Two days before, Trump sent this tweet:
“How many more Never Trumpers can testify to a perfectly appropriate phone call when all someone has to do is READ THE TRANSCRIPTION! I knew that people were listening to the call (why would I say something inappropriate?), Which was fine with me, but why so many?
But the transcript does not do what Trump seems to think he does. In fact, it does the opposite of what Trump thinks he does: it reveals a clear attempt to link US work. for Ukraine with a reward for the effort.
You do not believe me? Just look at how support for Trump's impeachment and impeachment has emerged following the revelation about the original call and then the subsequent disclosure of the approximate transcript. Nor does it help Trump's argument that his claim that the transcript is an "exact" replica of the conversation has proved false, according to witnesses who testified under oath to the relevant commissions.
In summary: the more people, especially those who follow politics only occasionally (at best) are exposed to this approximate transcript of the so-called Trump-Zelensky, the worse it is for Trump. Reading the transcript in some kind of presidential speech would put a lot of attention on a document that Trump should understand inaccurately: he didn't say the words "quid pro quo," right? His allies say.
The fact that Trump does not seem to understand that speaks of a big blind spot for him (and his administration), as he seeks to contain the damage of his decision to publish the approximate transcript.
Also, and don't underestimate this reality, Trump's behavior does not exactly lend itself to a "conversation by the fireplace" environment. Every time he speaks from a teleprompter, he sounds robotic, rehearsed and tired. But when you're not reading a script, well, it may sound angry and offensive.
In addition, this must be taken into account: the conversations on fire were popularized by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a way of communicating, explaining and reassuring the country, especially during World War II. They were radio broadcasts in a time before television and, yes, social networks. FDR often lasted half an hour or more. That simply would not work today in the era of "second screen experiences" and constant updates on social networks. And even if it is updated for a modern audience, turning a presidential speech into a political weapon sends a terrible message.
For all these reasons and more, a talk by the fire to read the transcript of the call with Ukraine is a disastrously bad idea. Even for Trump.