Private Trump Tape Bolsters WH Impeachment Defense — but Deceptive Media Edits Focus on Unrelated Ambassador

US President Donald Trump answers questions from reporters after making a video call to the troops stationed worldwide at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida, on December 24, 2019. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty

NEW YORK — In hyping audio that appears to show President Donald Trump calling for the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to be fired, the news media are entirely ignoring a key section of the same recording strongly supporting a central argument by the president’s defense team.

The news media seem to go to significant length to hide the sections of the audio in question given that Trump’s statements strengthening his defense arguments are made mere seconds before the audio being feverishly spotlighted by the news media where the president said he wanted then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch to be removed from her position without even knowing her name.

The audio, which centered on Ukraine, shows nearly a year and a half before Trump’s call to the Ukrainian president, he expressed deep concern that Germany was not paying its fair share in supporting Ukraine.  It’s always us that has to support everybody.  “Why is in Germany supporting?” Trump asked in the scrubbed audio. “Germany is not doing much,” he complained.

Trump’s legal team has been slamming Democrats and the news media for ignoring that during his July 25 call with Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky, Trump complained to the newly elected leader that Germany and other European countries were doing “almost nothing” for Ukraine. Zelensky agreed with that position.

Those sections of the call with Zelensky poke major holes in the Democrat’s narrative that Trump withheld aid from Ukraine as some sort of quid pro quo when he requested that Ukraine should investigate corruption in the country.

When asked last September why he withheld aid to Ukraine, Trump tied the issue to his longstanding complaint that other countries were not paying their fair share.

Trump stated:

As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid.  They were fully paid.  But my complaint has always been — and I’d withhold again, and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine.  Because they’re not doing it.  Just the United States.  We’re putting up the bulk of the money.  And I’m asking why is that.

Indeed, in his call with Zelensky, Trump spotlighted his displeasure that the U.S. was helping Ukraine while Germany and other European nations were not doing enough.

I will say that we do a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it’s something that you should really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks Ukraine, but she ·doesn’t do anything. A lot of the European countries are the same way so I think it’s something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn’t say that it’s reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.

During the Senate impeachment hearing the last few days, a key argument by Trump’s defense team has been keen to document the Democrats abject refusal to acknowledge the section of the call with Zelensky where Trump complained about a lack of funding to Ukraine from Germany and other European nations.

“They didn’t tell you that burden sharing was discussed in the call,” White House Attorney Pat Cipollone said during Saturday’s hearing.

Trump’s legal team even made slideshows for the Senate trial highlighting the portion of the call to Zelensky where the president made the case about other nations not contributing enough.

Now the news media seem to go be going to great lengths to hide key sections of an audio recording they have been hyping since the full recording of an April 2018 dinner was published by CBS News on Saturday. The comments in question, where Trump complains about Germany not paying its fair share to Ukraine, are made mere seconds before the section of the audio being played up by the news media.

Saturday saw the release to the news media of the full one hour and 23-minute audio that apparently captured the dinner with Trump attended by indicted Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. ABC first reported on some of the conversation on Friday with the full audio being released the next day.

The section of the audio that has been making waves has Trump calling for the ouster of Yovanovitch, although she wasn’t removed until 13 months later in May 2019.

NBC reported on the audio:

In the recording, a voice that appears to be Parnas’ tells Trump during a conversation on Ukraine that “where we need to start is we got to get rid of the ambassador, she’s still left over from the Clinton administration.” He says the ambassador has been” basically walking around telling everybody ‘Wait, he’s gonna get impeached, just wait.'”

Trump asks for the ambassador’s name, but both Parnas and another person at the table say they don’t have her name at the front of their memory. Trump says to “get rid of her.”

“Get rid of her. Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK?” Trump appears to say.

NBC and other media outlets, however failed to report that mere seconds earlier Trump complained about Germany not paying its fair share to Ukraine – evidencing a longtime theme that Trump was upset about America taking on more of the burden in providing aid to Ukraine. The audio clearly lends more credibility to Trump’s argument that his motivation for withholding aid to Ukraine related in part to the issue of other countries paying more.

Seconds before Trump’s comments on Yovanovitch, he states the following in the context of Ukraine (41:30 mark):

It’s always us that has to support everybody.  Why isn’t Germany supporting?

Germany is not doing much.

And less than three minutes earlier, Trump stated:

How about Germany opening up a pipeline into Russia? And we are supposed to be fighting Russia. So Germany is paying Russia like 2 billion dollars a month and they a member of NATO… And we are paying 90% of the cost of NATO.

Even CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin seemed to agree with White House attorney Cipollone’s contention the Democrats have omitted from their presentations the section of Trump’s call with Zelensky dealing with a lack of funding from Germany and other European nations.

“They did make one good point about [the transcript], I thought, which was the president did about burden-sharing in that phone call, and the House managers didn’t focus on that or even mention it. And fair is fair,” Toobin stated.

“He has talked about it before, and that was, I thought, a very legitimate good point made by the defense,” he added.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.

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