Yesterday’s Testimonies Killed the Trump-Ukraine “Cover-Up” Conspiracy Theory

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Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a military officer at the National Security Council, center, arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, to appear before a House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Committee on Oversight and Reform joint interview with the transcript to be part of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

There’s a lot going on today (follow my live blog of Gordon Sondland’s testimony), but I want to note one talking point that essentially collapsed yesterday. This is a result of both Alexander Vindman’s testimony and Tim Morrison’s testimony.

The story went something like this. The White House knew they had done something illegal on the July 25th phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. In response, they took the unprecedented step to put the transcript on a code word several to “cover” it up and hide it.

As some have pointed out, there were perfectly legitimate reasons to try to keep the transcript from leaking given that past phone conversations had made their way to the press. It has also been pointed out that the Obama administration did similar things and that Trump had been putting other conversations away as well, so this was not a unique situation.

Regardless, the conspiracy theory that Trump had hidden (and also altered) the transcript has continued to be a favorite accusation on the left.

That accusation died yesterday.

Now, some may say this is just a likely excuse. The problem? Even Alexander Vindman was given access to the transcript per his testimony. This was not locked away from everyone but Trump sycophants.

A. Vindman: (03:58)
I can say for myself, the concerns about leaks seemed valid and wasn’t particularly critical. I thought this was sensitive and I was not going to question the attorney’s judgment on that.

Steve Castor: (04:13)
Right, and even on the codeword server, you had access to it?

A. Vindman: (04:17)

Steve Castor: (04:19)
So at no point in time during the course of your official duties were you denied access to this information?

A. Vindman: (04:24)

Here’s the thing. If Trump was trying to hide this (or was even aware of its handling), why would Alexander Vindman and every other official on the NSC continue to be given access to it? Especially when many of those people were not political appointees? The answer is that the cover-up allegation simply doesn’t add up.

Rest assured, they’ll be plenty else for Democrats to go after Trump over in the coming days. But on this specific topic, which once formed one of their top talking points on impeachment, their desire for a Nixonian comparison just isn’t there.


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