Current and former government officials rejected President Trump’s claim that his administration released a “word-for-word transcript” of his July 25 Ukraine call and suggested that it may have been edited prior to publication.
“This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers,” Trump said Wednesday, claiming that the partial transcript was transcribed “word-for-word, comma for comma.”
This is clearly false since the document says on the front page that it is not a verbatim transcript.
“Caution,” said the partial transcript, “A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion.”
“The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty Officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place,” it said. “A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation. The word “inaudible” is used to indicate portions of a conversation that the notetaker was unable to hear.”
Experts say memo may have been edited:
The memo was clearly not a verbatim transcript but the whistleblower in his complaint, like Trump on Wednesday, referred to an “official word-for-word” transcript of the call, raising questions about what may have been left out.
“Current and former U.S. officials studying the document pointed to several elements that, they say, indicate that the document may have been handled in an unusual way,” The Washington Post reported. “Those include the use of ellipses — punctuation indicating that information has been deleted for clarity or other reasons — that traditionally have not appeared in summaries of presidential calls with foreign leaders.”
Two instances in which ellipses were used were in parts where Trump referred to CrowdStrike, a firm at the heart of his conspiracy theory that the Russians never hacked the DNC.
“I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The server, they say Ukraine has it,” Trump said, according to the memo.
The third use of ellipses came when Trump was discussing Joe Biden.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it... It sounds horrible to me,” Trump said, according to the document.
Senator says up to 20 minutes may be missing:
Sen. Angus King of Maine said that his office read the transcript aloud and timed it at 10 minutes and 40 seconds, about 20 minutes shorter than the White House said the call lasted.
“Our motivating question was: How much don't we know?” King said. “There has to be an inquiry to get to the facts."
The White House summary of the 30-minute call was less than 2,000 words, or 65 words per minute. A transcript of Trump’s 24-minute call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull measured at about 133 words per minute and his 53-minute call with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto clocked in at 102 words per minute. It’s possible that this was affected by the speed of interpreters.