CNN Sides With Trump After 2 Democrats Misquoted Ukraine Call During Impeachment Markup Session

December 16, 2019 Updated: December 16, 2019
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CNN has agreed with President Trump’s argument that two Democratic representatives misquoted his July 25 phone call with with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky during a debate on articles of impeachment on Thursday.

Amid Thursday’s grueling markup session, which lasted some 14 hours, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) said President Trump told President Zelensky, “I want you to do me a favor though.”

Similarly, Rep. Jackson Lee (D-Texas), quoted Trump as saying, “I would like you to do a favor though.”

However, in the declassified transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelensky, the president actually says, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot.”

In a Twitter post following the debate, Trump claimed that both Escobar and Lee had “purposely misquoted my call,” and pointed out that the pair had either changed or omitted the word “us” when quoting the transcript.

“Dems Veronica Escobar and Jackson Lee purposely misquoted my call. I said I want you to do us (our country!) a favor, not me a favor. They know that but decided to LIE in order to make a fraudulent point! Very sad,” he wrote.

President Trump
President Donald Trump at the South Portico of the White House on Dec. 13, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CNN Politics’s Fact Check agreed with the president that Escobar and Lee had indeed changed or omitted the word “us” in an article published Dec. 12.

“Trump is correct that the call was misquoted during today’s debate over the articles of impeachment in the House Judiciary committee,” the outlet wrote.

The word “us” is of significance as it could be seen to imply that the president was asking for a favor in the interest of the nation as opposed to a personal favor against a political rival.

Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan, who was one of three Democrat-called legal experts to testify before the House Judiciary Committee last week, claimed Trump was using what she called “the royal we” during his phone call with Zelensky.

“When the President said ‘do us a favor,’ he was using the royal we there,” she said.

“It wasn’t a favor for the United States. He should have said ‘do me a favor’ because only kings say ‘us’ when they mean ‘me,’” she added.

House Judiciary Committee Holds First Impeachment Inquiry Hearing
Pamela Karlan, a law professor at Stanford University, speaks before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington on Dec. 4, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

CNN’s agreement with Trump’s argument that he was misquoted by Escobar and Lee comes after House Democrats announced last week that they were filing two articles of impeachment against him, accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The abuse-of-power charge accuses Trump of using his presidential authority to urge Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden, his 2020 presidential campaign rival, and his son, Hunter Biden and effectively withholding military aid as leverage.

Meanwhile, the obstruction of Congress charge relates to the White House preventing current and former administration officials from participating in the House-led impeachment inquiry and refusing to provide documents to congressional investigators.

The articles are expected to be sent for a full floor vote next week, and if approved, the president will be put on trial in the Senate, where the impeachment effort is expected to fail.

Trump’s lawyers have argued (pdf) his refusal to cooperate with the impeachment investigation is justified because the process has been unfair to him, while the president himself has called the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt” against him.