The release Wednesday by the White House of the so-called transcript of President Donald Trump’s half-hour telephone call with the Ukrainian president raises more questions than it answers. It also evokes rancid memories of Watergate.
First, it is not at all a “transcript,” which consists of a verbatim recitation, but rather a summary prepared by one or more unknown Trump loyalists.
Second, it is not close to complete. The conversation that reportedly lasted some 30 minutes cannot possibly be encompassed in a scant five-page synopsis, riddled with ellipses and apparent redactions of content.
It also establishes a paper trail leading to other actors, including Rudy Giuliani, the president’s private attorney, and Attorney General William Barr, who now both must be questioned, under oath, in the impeachment inquiry about their dealings and discussions with the Ukrainian leadership.
The echoes of former President Richard Nixon and Watergate resonate.
During that scandal, the White House offered to furnish summaries of taped conversations without providing the real recordings themselves. It finally took congressional inquiries and judicial proceedings, culminating in a Supreme Court directive that the actual tapes be produced, including the penultimate “smoking gun” that spurred the president’s resignation. But even then the infamous 18-minute portion was missing — and still remains so today.
Since the Trump “transcript” reportedly was partly derived from some type of voice-recognition monitor, if any recording of all or part of the call exists, it should be sought by subpoena and produced forthwith.
This should be done before some modern-day version of Rose Mary Woods gets access to it.
Marshall H. Tanick, Minneapolis
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Just as a prosecutor may persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, so may the U.S. House impeach a ham sandwich (“Impeachment push begins,” front page, Sept. 25). The ham sandwich who occupies the Oval Office may be unsavory, but I’ve yet to learn of any crime he’s committed as president.
William Day, Minneapolis
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I was tired of being numb and no longer outraged or appalled by what Trump says or does.
I am not tired anymore. I am outraged.
I am outraged having to listen to Trump denigrate just about anyone he deems as “the other,” including members of Congress. I am outraged when he denigrates veterans, Gold Star families, and those who might kneel in peaceful protest. I am outraged when Trump calls all women liars when they come forward with stories of harassment or abuse by him — even when there is proof of monetary payoffs.
I am outraged as he tears down law enforcement and national intelligence officers, unconcerned about the collateral damage. I am outraged at his governing by tweet without consequence. I am outraged at watching as this man tears down the dignity of this country. I am outraged at watching the Republican Party sell their collective souls to a person who has no real political leanings or beliefs other than to himself. I am outraged, as an American citizen, of being embarrassed by this administration.
It was clear what kind of person he was during the election. Now we hear that he would use his power of office against another country in order to smear a political opponent.
I am outraged when a minority of this country says how great this man is. He is not. Yet Trump is allowed to run rampant, unconcerned about the damage he is leaving behind.
There simply is no defense for this man.
Not only does it illicit outrage, it is heartbreaking.
Erika Christensen, Lake Elmo
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Racism didn’t work. Russia didn’t work. Recession didn’t work. Recycling lies about Justice Brett Kavanaugh didn’t work.
The phone call to Ukraine won’t work.
It’s time for the party of hate and its accomplices, the liberal media, to accept the fact that the American people chose Donald Trump as president in 2016. Get over it!
Robert D. Close, Alexandria
Students skip state tests because they don’t matter for their future
It is critical that our students take standardized tests — just not the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (“It’s critical to test Minnesota students,” editorial, Sept. 23).
As high school students increasingly choose to opt out of the MCAs or to not take the tests seriously (“More Minn. students skip state tests,” front page, Sept. 15), the adults are wondering why. It is quite simple: The MCAs are meant to measure school performance and are irrelevant to students. MCA results don’t impact grades, scholarships, college credits, or job or college prospects. Meanwhile, classroom tests, Advanced Placement exams, college entrance and job placement tests have meaningful impact on students’ lives.
If we want to determine whether Minnesota high school students are ready for their choice of college or career, we should follow the lead of the many states in our nation that use a national test like the ACT or Accuplacer. We should use tests that give timely and relevant information, unlike the MCAs, and can be used to track important school metrics like the achievement gap. Does Minnesota need its own separate test for high school math, English and science? I think our students are answering that question for us.
Stephanie Levine, Mendota Heights
The writer is on the West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan school board.
More highways won’t lessen traffic
I recently saw a billboard urging Minnesotans to petition for more highway lanes. Nonsense! We’ve been building more lanes for years and they have simply encouraged more people to drive, until we’re right back to where we started with congested highways. Economists call this “induced demand.” Building more lanes fits Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
There is no one solution to congestion, but reducing the need for people to drive, such as building more affordable housing near where people work and enabling more telecommuting, would help, as would better public transportation and support for biking. Most important, we need to change the mind-set that we should be able to hop in our private cars and go wherever we like whenever we like.
But nothing alone can solve the problem as long as we have a growing population. The idea that continuous growth is desirable is absurd. That is the same mind-set that is bringing us to the brink of runaway climate change.
Lois Braun, Falcon Heights
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