A phalanx of legislators and staffers loyal to President Trump deployed to the sets of news shows on Sunday, ready to do battle with the hated news media. The subject, of course, was last week’s revelations about Trump’s having pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and the White House’s subsequent effort to hide records of that call. Confronted with the reality of what Trump and his administration did, each supporter deployed the same tactic: denial and deflection.
Most notable was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s appearance on “60 Minutes.” Interviewer Scott Pelley tripped up McCarthy immediately — by quoting Trump directly.
“What do you make of this exchange?” Pelley asked the California Republican. “President Zelensky says, ‘We are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes.’ And President Trump replies, ‘I would like you to do us a favor though.’”
“You just added another word,” McCarthy replied.
Pelley had not added a word. Nor is this line buried in the rough transcript provided by the White House; it’s one of the most-talked-about moments in the five-page document — a document Pelley clearly assumed the ranking Republican in the House had read.
“He said, ‘I’d like you to do a favor though’?” McCarthy asked.
“Yes,” Pelley replied, “it’s in the White House transcript.”
McCarthy’s response? Criticize Trump’s predecessor.
“When I read the transcript, President Zelensky brings up a Javelin is a protection for antitank, something that President Obama would not sell that President Trump did to protect the Ukraine,” he replied.