Truth Matters 2

Wow. What a day!  Trump’s letter to Pelosi sent on Dec 17, 2019 repeats Politifact  “Lie of the Year” for 2019 and also the lie that I thought should have won (my personal favorite).  It adds some “golden oldies”  well known to be false.

Here’s the lie that got  Trump the 2019 award:

“…  so-called whistleblower who started this entire hoax with a false report of the phone call that bears no relationship to the actual phone call that was made.”

As so carefully analyzed by Politifact, the whistleblower’s report coincides very well with what the transcript says.

Trump’s lie is embedded in another misleading statement, that the White House was denied the right to call or  cross examine witnesses.  CNN reports:

Allowing the subject of an impeachment inquiry to call witnesses or present counter evidence is not required in either the Constitution or House rules. Furthermore, the House voted in late October to allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to cross examine witnesses once the impeaching hearing moved to Judiciary Committee. But the White House declined to participate. If the House successfully votes to impeach a federal official, the Senate then holds trial. The impeachment rules in the upper chamber do offer the impeached person some rights.

But, this letter also contains my personal choice the lie of the year, as follows:

You know full well that Vice President Biden used his office and $1 billion dollars of U.S. aid money to coerce Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was digging into the company paying his son millions of dollars.

That’s exactly the line Trump planned to use to gain the support of the Americans in 2020.  Except he would add,  “This is based on an ongoing investigation by the President Zelensky of Ukraine as announced in 2019” if the whistleblower hadn’t ruined his plans.  You know what – he’ll probably still use it.   He can say that this is based on an investigation by Rudy Giuliani or an  OANN investigation or Attorney Joe DiGenova research., passed on to the FBI.

Well, of course Rep. Pelosi knows this is  total rubbish, because the firing of Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Shokin was very well explained  in the House Judiciary Committee report as follows:

Similarly, there is no legitimate basis for President Trump to claim former Vice President Biden behaved improperly in calling for the removal of Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin. When he called for Mr. Shokin’s removal, then-Vice President Biden acted in accordance with and in furtherance of an official United States policy and the broad consensus of various European countries and the International Monetary Fund.615 Indeed, in late 2015, the International Monetary Fund threatened Ukraine that it would not receive $40 billion in international assistance unless Mr. Shokin was removed.616 Vice President Biden was subsequently enlisted by the State Department to call for Mr. Shokin’s removal—and in late 2015 and early 2016, he announced that the United States would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless Mr. Shokin was dismissed.617 Ultimately, in March 2016, Ukraine’s parliament voted to dismiss Mr. Shokin.618 Moreover, multiple witnesses confirmed that the removal of Mr. Shokin would have increased the likelihood that Burisma would be investigated for corruption, not the opposite, given that Mr. Shokin was widely considered to be both ineffective and corrupt.619 Any suggestion that former Vice President Biden called for Mr. Shokin’s removal in order to stop an investigation of Burisma, the company whose board Hunter Biden sat on, is inconsistent with these facts.620

I’ve left in the footnotes 615 to 620, which are references to documents in the report.

The letter is nasty, with numerous false or misleading statements, including:

Speaker Pelosi, you admitted just last week at a public forum that your party’s impeachment effort has been going on for two and a half years

Just the opposite is true.  The 2 1/2 years is the Mueller investigation, which was initiated by the Justice Department.  After the report was completed, the Speaker was reluctant to begin impeachment proceedings.  Yes, other Democrats felt the impeachment case was strong, but Pelosi held out.  The obstruction of Congress would have occurred in either the Russian or Ukraine case.  With the Ukraine scandal, Trump really handed Pelosi a much more straight forward violation of the constitution.

And Trump adds one of his all time favorite lies:

Congressman Adam Schiff cheated and lied all the way up to the present day, even going so far as to fraudulently make up, out of thin air, my conversation with President Zelensky of Ukraine and read this fantasy language to Congress as though it were said by me.

Fact checkers know this as the “short version” of the big lie.  The longer version of the lie, told at Trump rallies, is that Schiff first invents the conversation, then Trump reveals to the public the real transcript exposing Schiff as a liar.  Great at rallies, but twice as false as the shorter version.  I call the longer version, the comic book one, because it not only has a villian (Schiff) but a hero to boot (Trump).     From the New York Times critique of the letter:   In a congressional hearing in September, Mr. Schiff said he was conferring the “essence” of the conversation that was meant to be partially “parody.” His account veered from the transcript in chronology and details at points, but it generally tracked with the transcript’s version of what Mr. Trump said on the call.”  The longer version is absolutely wrong, because Schiff’s summary of the conversation was done after the transcript was released in September.

The tone of the letter is angry and inappropriate for anyone holding high office.   It is taking aim at elected representatives, who come to Congress to represent their constituents.  It attacks the FBI.    The critical information is the letter has been proven to be untrue.

The letter was characterized by Rep. Pelosi as “sick.”  The headlines in the New York Times,  “Trump’s 6-page Diatribe Belittles Impeachment as an “Attempted Coup,”  The polemics are disgraceful.  The lies are consistent with the last 3 years of Trump’s presidency.  See link for the letter.  There are dozens of analyses of the letter on the internet.

I would just say it is sad when we have a president with so little regard for the truth.

Please don’t count on Facebook postings, Twitter,  Fox and OANN commentators, Trump rallies  and other sources for factual news, particularly on impeachment.   These are sources of misleading and frequently false information.

I invoke the Daniel Moynihan admonition: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”   If we start to get straight the facts, our differences are likely to be less.

I also like to recent comment Judge Amy Berman Jackson, ‘”If people don’t have the facts, democracy doesn’t work.”

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

There is a lot of good fact checking website as I list under the links.

Letter-From-President-Trump-Final

Politifact website

CNN Fact Checking

Factcheck.org

 

 

 

 

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