Please Let Trump’s “Fireside Chat” Happen

Andrew Harrer/ZUMA

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President Donald Trump has tweeted seven times in the past month that Americans should “READ THE TRANSCRIPT!

It’s an odd demand considering many people did, in fact, read the White House’s reconstruction of his now-infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and it was widely viewed as highly damaging for the president. The document also featured several curious ellipses, which a top Ukraine expert with firsthand knowledge of the conversation told investigators this week marked the omission of key details related to Trump’s demands for an investigation into his political enemies. According to the New York Timesthat revelation didn’t “fundamentally change lawmakers’ understanding of the call,” but it does further undermine Trump’s insistence that the document somehow exonerates him.

Still, “read the transcript” has emerged as Trump’s go-to, shorthand defense, a kind of catchall rejoinder against impeachment. Now, with allegations of multiple quid pro quos piling up, “read the transcript” appears ready for primetime. Trump told the Washington Examiner on Thursday:

“This is over a phone call that is a good call. At some point, I’m going to sit down, perhaps as a fireside chat on live television, and I will read the transcript of the call because people have to hear it.

“When you read it, it’s a straight call.”

In the same interview, Trump floated the idea of selling t-shirts emblazoned with the line. 

I personally endorse the roaring, fireside chat. I just ask that Trump wears the t-shirt when he does it.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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