The “transcript” of the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call of July 25 raises an interesting question: Where’s the rest of it?

In addition to the date and location of the call, the document’s heading notes the time: “9:03 – 9:33 a.m. EDT.” Thirty minutes. But if you read the “transcript” aloud at a normal conversational pace, it takes about 12 minutes.

Eighteen missing minutes? Citizens of a certain age are likely to be reminded of the suspicious 18-minute gap that cropped up in one of the Watergate tapes of a conversation between President Richard Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman. Those missing minutes raised concerns that the tape had been scrubbed of damaging evidence. The shades of Watergate persist in interesting ways.

In the case of the Trump-Zelenskiy “transcript,” part of the explanation for the missing information may lie in the fact that the document isn’t a transcript, at all, but a “Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation” produced by staff assigned to “listen and memorialize the conversation” as it is taking place. In other words, while the document is popularly called a transcript, it’s actually a summary. But I’m not sure this explanation sufficiently accounts for the apparent discrepancy between the length of the call and the amount we know about what was actually said. Summaries, by definition, leave things out.

The only other explanation I’ve heard suggested for the 18-minute gap is that much of the time may have been taken up by translators. This sounds semi-feasible until we realize that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks English, as he demonstrated at his meeting with Trump at the U.N. last week.

Unlike Watergate’s 18-minute gap, however, the information in the current one evidently still exists in the form of a genuine full transcript that has been hidden away in a highly secure location. Americans interested in a full accounting should insist on the release of that document, as well as records of other calls — with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman, for example — that have been concealed.

In any case, the 12-minute conversation that we already have is a remarkably revealing record of the phone call. English? Ukrainian? It doesn’t matter. What’s clear is that Trump and Zelenskiy speak the same language — let’s call it the language of This-for-That — and both of them understood each other very, very well.

The grammar of the language of This-for-That is based on understatement and an economy of words. The less said, the better, as long as the meaning is clear. It often relies on a mismatch in power between the conversants, and its only reason for existing is to facilitate an exchange of value. You do not have to be fluent in English to understand This-for-That; in fact, it’s probably Donald Trump’s first language.

Does the Trump-Zelenskiy conversation contain a quid pro quo? Of course it does, as anyone who understands This-for-That quickly recognizes. Trump merely used the smallest hammer necessary for the job, but he and Zelenskiy both understand clearly — and this is the genius of This-for-That — that a $391 million hammer waits in the background, whether anyone mentions it or not. Ukrainian independence, as well as the lives of Ukrainians, depends on that money.

There’s nothing mysterious about this. Any fair observer can understand the language of This-for-That (in Latin, that’s quid pro quo) just as clearly as Trump and Zelenskiy do. But there’s such a thing as willful illiteracy, which means allowing prejudices to overwhelm what the reader actually sees in the text. Thus Republicans read, but dismissed, extremely clear evidence of Trump’s attempts at obstruction of justice in the Mueller report. And thus some Republicans can read clear evidence of a deal being made and pretend that nothing consequential is taking place.

We’ve seen only a 12-minute summary of the half-hour duration of the Trump-Zelenskiy conversation. The other 18 minutes might better serve the purposes of a full investigation. But even the summary speaks eloquently. In the interest of concision, here’s a summary of the summary: The Trump-Zelenskiy call was deeply corrupt, unpatriotic, criminal and impeachable.

John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service, lives in Georgetown, Texas, and can be reached at jcrispcolumns@gmail.com.

Copyright 2019 Tribune Content Agency.

(38) comments

Obadiah Plainsmen

Adam Schiff just identify the whistleblower and has the transcript of the 18 minute gap .. the whistleblower name is Rosemary Woods.

awteam2000

Wasn’t Rose Mary Woods Nixon’s personal secretary? Is she still living? What a coincidence.

Didn’t she claimed she had erased part of the tape by mistake causing the 18 minute gap? She wasn’t a whistleblower though.

Obadiah Plainsmen

She died in 2005, but don't tell Adam Schiff he'll believe anything you tell him.

awteam2000

And you don’t? Trump has lied, how many times? Since and before, being in office Trump has pulled the wool over so many people’s eyes. A carnival act. Aren’t you the exception? I think you’re smarter then that?... A guess.

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2019-09-30/trump-lashes-out-at-foes-amid-impeachment-inquiry

threecents

Go Trump!... No, seriously, go away.

awteam2000

The Inspector General (IG) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) both appointed by Trump said the whistleblower’s complaint about Donald Trump and Ukraine is creditable. The IG said he has firsthand knowledge of the misconduct.

threecents

But my source tells me that conversations with the Ukraine president were beautiful, perfect, and excellent

jsklinelga

awteam2000

Some of these posts are way out in left field and it is hard to not comment, even though it is fruitless.Yours is so typical of the incorrect and false nature of most. Can you point out the place where the IG said the call was misconduct Or is that your "Schiff" version.

awteam2000

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/us/politics/whistleblower-declassified-report.html

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/intelligence-watchdog-whistleblower-complaint

awteam2000

Michael Atkinson, the inspector general appointed by Trump, determined that the whistleblower complaint was an "urgent concern" that "is credible." He will give detailed testimony on the issues raised by the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee.

jsklinelga

awteam2000

The IG never said it was misconduct. As a matter of fact the IG was the one that said it was second-hand knowledge in accordance with the actual complaint. Now the stories changed due to the revealing that the law was changed simultaneously with the issue of the complaint. Many new questions arise. Not with Trump but with the complaint.. At no time did the IG say it was misconduct.

public-redux

I read aw’s comment as referencing the “first-hand” part while the “misconduct” as aw’s characterization. YMMV. The IG did say that it had corroborating evidence.



Also, intelligence community workers have been able to blow the whistle based on second-hand or “hearsay” information for years. The standard has been a “reasonable belief” of misconduct in order to file a complaint. You may prefer to dismiss this but it may give you a glimpse of what could be forthcoming.

awteam2000

Okay... Whatever.

jsklinelga

I had to check to see if this was written by Adam Schiff. "Supposing" an 18 minute segment of the conversation was left out and suggesting it had the same import as the Nixon tapes is as fantastical and absurd as much of this political charade. DJT was elected in part to drain the swamp. Huge panicked, roadblocks such as an unvoted upon, senseless impeachment inquiry are being thrust in his path because the real truth is beginning to emerge Of course Biden is part of this. Only ultra blind partisanship would question his corruption. But he is only part. Glad to see the Clinton's and are coming under scrutiny again.


olefool

You're sounding just like Rudy jsk, unhinged. Are you ready for the "civil war" Trump has promised you when he is deposed for his criminality??

richardlyons

[lol]

matts853

You mean, only an ultra blind partisan would support him after his clear cut transgressions against the constitution and rule of law, not to mention his responses to the whistleblower complaint which are seditious and antithetical to presidential norms of behavior. He’s a train wreck of his own making, not the media’s or the Democrats. Wake up, JSK.

Comment deleted.
public-redux

What does “IC” stand for in your comment?

Comment deleted.
Dwasserba

Ohhhhh myyy all around you here, people know the rules. The whistleblower followed them.

matts853

And everyone close to this president gets in trouble trying to defend him. Why? Because he’s corrupt and unprincipled, and fruit of the poison Trump tree doesn’t fall far from it. All his men get hit in the head with the apples. So how you like them now?

User1

Skipped your TDS meds again? She still lost. Impeaching Trump won’t make her President.

matts853

Never wanted her to be POTUS. And I’m Republican, just not a brainwashed one. The last election was a choice akin to death by a mauling lion or a great white shark attack. Which would you choose, User?


phydeaux994

The Republicans owned the Senate and House from Jan. 2011 to Jan.2019 and the Presidency from 2017 till now. Why didn’t they Investigate the Biden’s?

public-redux

Oh, that’s easy. We didn’t regard Biden as a political threat until he started polling well.

niceund

This is idiotic. Hypocrisy .

threecents

Even without a proven quid pro quo, Trump's request of a foreign president to smear his opponent is enough to impeach. The impeachment is a done deal, though there is little chance the senate will convict, and perhaps Mitch will pull some dirty tricks from his sleeves in retribution.

Samanthapowers

let's wait and see where the evidence takes us. hopefully common sense will prevail and that grifting dotard will be wearing county blues.

threecents

Prison will only increase his TV ratings, which maybe why he seems to be heading that way. He knows that threatening a witness is a crime, so why is he doing that?

Dwasserba

It won't be the first series inside a prison that I won't watch.

matts853

Could he tweet from prison? Now that would really be entertaining.



Trump tweets = Treets.

Comment deleted.
hayduke2

Well, since both gentleman spoke English, I guess it was the president who needed the translator?

Comment deleted.
DickD

[censored]

User1

Smear? Maybe you’ve forgotten about the Ukraine-USA Anti-Corruption Treaty signed by President Clinton and ratified by Congress. This gives him the right AND obligation to do what he does.

matts853

User, do you work in the Trump administration? If not, I encourage you to apply. You seem to have the aptitude for it.

awteam2000

Trump has a history of smearing opponents with false conspiracies like the birther movement conspiracy, like Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the assassination of John Kennedy, like he saw Muslims cheering in New Jersey after 9/11, like China is behind climate change, like claiming Rubio was ineligible to run for President because his parents were not natural-born US citizens. The list goes on... Not to mention, if he’s talking he’s lying 🤥. He has NO credibility.

Trump fatigue is setting in. Folks are getting tired of the continuous drama and smearing. Adolescent.

matts853

I ignored it because I can’t even make sense of it to respond one way or another. Amd the same can be asked of you.

Dwasserba

Mitch is up for re election. Not too late to donate to his opponent's campaign.

threecents

That is the kind of thing Mitch would use to energize his campaign.

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