Senator King Suggests At Least 20 Minutes Are Missing From Trump Ukraine Call Transcript
Independent Senator Angus King has claimed that some 20 minutes of the phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky are missing from the White House memo detailing the conversation.
King told CNN host Anderson Cooper Tuesday that he and his staff had reconstructed the call using the memo, determining that more than two thirds of the call time was unaccounted for.
The full transcript of the now-infamous call between the two leaders has not been released. Though the document makes clear that the read out has been edited, it is not clear exactly how much has been cut, and what those sections may contain.
King told Cooper he has a “hunch” about the edited transcript, the release of which pushed the Democratic Party to open an impeachment investigation into the president.
“I had two staff members from my office the other day read it aloud. And we timed it,” King explained. “They read it in normal speaking pace. It took them 10 minutes and 40 seconds. The phone call was 30 minutes. Now, we don’t know what is missing.”
King admitted that some, or even all, of the missing time could have been taken up by translators facilitating the call. “It may be there was a translator involved and that made it go much longer,” the senator acknowledged.
“But the president of the Ukraine speaks English. If there was no translator that raises a question of what’s in the other 20 minutes of that discussion.”
Zelensky is not fluent in English, despite claims to the contrary by some observers. While his skills are increasing, RFERL Christopher Miller noted the president ” would certainly need a translator to speak in the manner in which this memo suggests he did.”
King noted that he has long been lukewarm on the prospect of impeaching the president. However, he cited the time gap on the phone call memo as the reason “why I think there has to be an inquiry to get to the facts surrounding this, what looks like at least an attempted transaction.”
Since the release of the memo, Trump’s characteristically pugnacious social media output has become even more aggressive. Among other allegations, Trump has accused the anonymous whistleblower who brought the conversation to the attention of Congress of committing treason and spying on the president.
King warned that any accusation of treason must not be made lightly. “To throw it around in this situation, the problem is the president feels that he is the state, you know, like Louis XIV.”
King suggested Trump believes that “criticism of him is treason against the United States. That’s not true. That’s just not the way it works.”
He continued, “And by the way, the whistleblower doesn’t decide the case. He or she has brought forth a set of facts which are now in the hands of Congress. And they have the opportunity to investigate it to find out if the whistleblower is right or wrong.”
The highly charged and partisan nature of the scandal has prompted calls for the anonymous whistleblower to receive additional protection.
Asked whether the official’s identify could be kept secret, King told Cooper, “I certainly hope so. Because, you know, the president is using words like interview. But last week he used words like spy, and implying execution. That’s a threat.”