Politics

Apparent White House talking points on Trump's Ukraine call about Biden accidentally emailed to Democrats

Key Points
  • A list of what appeared to be White House talking points about a controversial call by President Donald Trump with Ukraine's president were emailed accidentally to the offices of Democratic members of Congress
  • The talking points mirror what Republican defenders of Trump said Wedneday on the heels of the release of notes summarizing the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • During that call, Trump asked Zelensky to "look into" former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and his son, Hunter Biden.
President Donald Trump attends a multilateral meeting with Western Hemisphere leaders about Venezuela during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2019.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Well, that's awkward.

A detailed list of what appeared to be White House talking points about a controversial call by President Donald Trump with Ukraine's president was accidentally emailed to the offices of Democratic members of Congress on Wednesday, according to NBC News.

The talking points were sent from the federal department that handles communication with other government offices. Trump's Republican defenders used language echoing the talking points Wednesday after notes summarizing the July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were released.

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The subject line of the email was "What You Need To Know | President Trump's Call with President Zelenskyy."

Afterward, Democratic offices that had received the list of talking points from the director of Government Communications received an email announcing a "RECALL" of the original email containing the messaging about the call.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC when asked if the administration had created the talking points about the call.

During that call, Trump asked Zelensky to "look into" former Vice President Joe Biden, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for president, and his son, Hunter Biden.

Trump suggested, without evidence, that Joe Biden in 2016 had improperly thwarted a Ukrainian prosecutor's probe into a company in that nation whose board Hunter Biden served on.

At the time of the call, Trump had blocked the release of $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. That money since has been released.

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Democrats in the House have launched an impeachment inquiry in connection with the call, which many of them believe represented improper pressure by Trump to get a foreign country to take action against a political opponent who is seeking to unseat Trump.

The inquiry also was spurred by the Trump administration blocking Congress from being briefed on a whistleblower's complaint related to the call.

The first talking point in the email Wednesday addresses that issue:

Press reports have given currency to flat-out falsehoods about the call.

  • The transcript clearly shows there was no quid pro quo or anything else inappropriate about the conversation between President Trump and President Zelenskyy.
  • Myth: The President made a mysterious "promise" to Zelenskyy in return for Ukraine reviving an investigation relating to Joe Biden and his son.
  • Fact: There was no such promise. The President wanted allegations of corruption potentially involving an American official to be investigated.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said on MSNBC that he and other members of Congress were invited to the White House on Wednesday morning to talk with Trump about about the notes on the call before they were released.

"The bottom line here is that in this transcript there is no quid pro quo, there is no improper leverage and the overall tone of this transcript is that it is mutual laudatory," Gaetz said.

Read the rest of the talking points here:

  • Myth: The President offered a "quid pro quo" related to military aid for Ukraine.
  • Fact: There was no quid pro quo; in fact there is no mention of the aid package to Ukraine at all.
  • Myth: The President urged President Zelenskyy to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Biden's involvement in securing the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor eight times.
  • Fact: The President mentioned Rudy Giuliani only after Zelenskyy mentioned him first and referred to Biden in only one exchange.
  • Fact: The President mentioned Rudy Giuliani only after Zelenskyy mentioned him first and referred to Biden in only one exchange.

What the President actually talked about was entirely proper.

  • President Trump asked President Zelenskyy to investigate any connection between Ukraine and attempts to interfere with the 2016 election, something he has publicly discussed in the past.
  • It is entirely appropriate for the President to ask a foreign leader to investigate any connection between his country and attempted interference in the 2016 election.
  • The President did not mention Rudy Giuliani or Vice President Biden until after President Zelenskyy had raised Giuliani first.
  • Only after Zelenskyy brought up Giuliani related to addressing corruption issues did the President ask Zelenskyy to speak to Giuliani and raised Vice President Biden's role in the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating a Ukrainian company that had Biden's son on its board.
  • When a high-ranking U.S. government official, like then Vice-President Biden, brags that he used his official position to derail an investigation in another country that could have impacted his son, it is appropriate for the President to suggest that the matter be looked into.
  • That is not seeking foreign "interference" in a U.S. election, it is suggesting that allegations of an abuse of office merit looking into.

The real scandal here is that leaks about a second-hand account of the President's confidential telephone call with a foreign leader triggered a media frenzy of false accusations against the President and forced the President to release the transcript.

· The country has already been put through over two years of investigation by the special counsel into a phony Russian collusion story, six months of congressional investigations into the same issue, and now Democrats want to trigger a new round of investigations into fake accusations.

· This case just shows another example of the "Deep State," the media, and Democrats in Congress damaging our national security by leaking confidential information in an attempt to seek political gain.

Let's be clear, there was no quid pro quo for Ukraine to get US aid in exchange for looking into Biden or his son.

  • Assistance to Ukraine was mentioned by President Trump only to stress how much the United States is doing and how other countries, like Germany, need to do their fair share.
  • The President has said repeatedly that he wants other countries to be pitching in more to help Ukraine and President Zelenskyy agreed with him.

These are unique circumstances that require the transcript to be released if the American people are to know the truth.

  • After Secretary Pompeo talked with the government of Ukraine, the President determined to release the transcript of his telephone conversation to end the wild speculation and to set the record straight.
  • The President believes his private conversations with world leaders should be kept confidential and made this exception in the interests of transparency because of the amount of misinformation being spread in the press.
  • The idea that someone can hear a second-hand account of a confidential conversation and use it in a complaint to start a partisan investigation fundamentally undermines the office of President.
  • This is just another example of the "Deep State," the media, and Democrats damaging our national security for political gain.

This complaint was handled absolutely by the book and it was properly determined that no further action should be taken.

  • After receiving the complaint from the ICIG, the DNI appropriately consulted with the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the Department of Justice.
  • OLC determined that this complaint did not fall within the scope of the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, and, therefore, that the DNI was not required to send the complaint to the intelligence committees.
  • The DNI did not forward the complaint because it implicated significant, constitutionally based Executive Branch confidentiality interests and there was no applicable statutory requirement.
  • While the DNI determined that the complaint should not be sent to Congress, that did not end the review of the complaint. To the contrary, the complaint was given to DOJ for appropriate review.
  • DOJ officials reviewed the complaint in light of the legal issues identified by the ICIG in his cover letter to the DNI and determined that no further action was warranted.
  • Myth: The President offered a "quid pro quo" related to military aid for Ukraine.
  • Myth: The President urged President Zelenskyy to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Biden's involvement in securing the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor eight times.
  • Fact: There was no quid pro quo; in fact there is no mention of the aid package to Ukraine at all.

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