Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) challenged the skewed reporting of CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, calling out his misrepresentation of President Trump's July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine and noting that what Tapper "said is completely untrue." Paul later added, "you guys are not being honest with the facts here."
CNN's Tapper has made it abundantly clear that he believes the Democrats' version of the July 25 phone call, often asserting that Trump was calling on the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden in exchange for foreign aid. Tapper calls this interpretation "a fact."
However, as Sen. Paul explained, it is not a fact. If you read the transcript in context, Trump first asked about alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election and then asked about alleged corruption involving Hunter Biden, who was put on the board of a Ukrainian gas company in 2014, the Burisma Group, which paid him a reported $50,000 a month for five years (until April 2019), totaling at least $3 million.
Focusing on corruption from 2016 involving Ukraine, Hunter Biden -- who has a long history of drug abuse -- and Joe Biden's demand (in late 2015) that a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating corruption be fired before loan guarantees to Ukraine were okayed is not an unreasonable interpretation of the phone call.
Nonetheless, on State of the Union, Dec. 15, CNN's Tapper engaged in the following exchange with Senator Paul, "Just to be clear, this precedent that you are prepared to set, you would be okay with a president, say, Elizabeth Warren, asking a foreign government to investigate her top Republican rival, as long as there's some -- was some sort of allegation about that Republican rival having some sort of connection to allegations of corruption?"
Tapper: That's going to be okay with you?
Paul: I think you all misreport this. But I think you all misreport this.
Tapper: That's just a fact.
Paul: What you guys say every time is -- well, it's not. I mean, what you said is completely untrue. (Emphasis added.)
Tapper: Wait. No, no, no, no, no.
Paul: The president didn't call up the president of Ukraine and say -- no, let -- let -- let me finish.
He didn't call up the president of Ukraine and say, investigate my rival.
Tapper: He said, investigate Joe Biden.
Paul: He said, investigate a certain person and a certain -- let -- let -- let me finish. Here's -- here's the thing, is, you guys are not being honest with the facts here. He does not call up and say, investigate my rival. He says, investigate a person. So let's say I'm the Republican sheriff in my county here in Kentucky. (Emphasis added.)
Tapper: And Joe Biden is his rival.
Paul: And let me finish. Let me finish my sentence. If I'm the Republican sheriff here, and my Democrat opponent son is caught stealing from a liquor store, am I supposed to say, oh, I'm allowed to investigate corruption unless that person is related to someone that might run against me?
So you can't make rules that way. It's either corruption or it's not growing corruption. It happens that, in this case, there were allegations of corruption, and they involved Joe Biden and his son. And the American people, when they hear that Hunter Biden made 50 grand a month, they smell corruption. (Emphasis added.)
Tapper: If you want to...
Paul: And I think it was wrong. And I think he used his office to enrich his son. And I think most Americans agree with us. But you keep saying that the president said, investigate my rival. (Emphasis added.)
Tapper: He said, investigate Joe Biden.
Paul: No, he said, investigate corruption.
Tapper: He said, investigate...
Paul: It involves -- yes.
Tapper: The word corruption does not appear in that transcript, sir.
Paul: Yes. Right.
Tapper: The word corruption does not. He said, investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. But I know you want to -- I know you want to talk about Afghanistan.
Paul: Right, who -- who worked for a company -- no, but who worked for a company called Burisma, which had been investigated for many years for corruption. There are still allegations of corruption against Burisma. And I don't know that we have gotten the full picture of the corruption involved.
Tapper: He didn't say, investigate Burisma.
Paul: ... this oligarch and Hunter Biden's...
Tapper: See, he didn't say, investigate Burisma or go investigate all the corrupt companies in your country. He said, investigate Joe and Hunter Biden.
Tapper: There's no secret about that.
Paul: Yes, I know.
Tapper: But I know you want to talk about Afghanistan. We agreed to do this interview.
Tapper: Do you want talk about Afghanistan or not, because...
Paul: Absolutely. I mean, the whole thing is...
Paul: ... we should talk about important things, instead of wasting our time on this partisanship, you know?
Tapper: Well, I don't know that impeaching the president of the United States is a waste of time, in terms of discussing it. But let's -- let's...
Paul: Well, it's completely partisan.
Tapper: Let me -- I know you want to -- I know you want to...
Paul: And it has nothing to do with the facts. (Emphasis added.)
Tapper: All right.
During the July 25, 2019 telephone call, President Trump alluded to corruption in Ukraine, possible interference with the computers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and possible corruption involving Hunter Biden and perhaps Joe Biden.
Trump to Zelensky: "I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot [in the 2016 election] and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike [a cyber-security firm in Ukraine hired by the DNC]... I guess you have one of your wealthy people... The [DNC] server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation .. I think you're surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it."
Trump to Zelensky: "The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that [Joe] Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. [Joe] Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it ... It sounds horrible to me."
On Jan. 23, 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden bragged at the Council on Foreign Relations about how he held loan guarantees in suspension until a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was fired.
Biden to CFR: "I’m desperately concerned about the backsliding on the part of Kiev in terms of corruption. They made—I mean, I’ll give you one concrete example. I was—not I, but it just happened to be that was the assignment I got. I got all the good ones. And so I got Ukraine. And I remember going over, convincing our team, our leaders to—convincing that we should be providing for loan guarantees. And I went over, I guess, the 12th, 13th time to Kiev. And I was supposed to announce that there was another billion-dollar loan guarantee. And I had gotten a commitment from Poroshenko and from Yatsenyuk that they would take action against the state prosecutor. And they didn’t.
"So they said they had—they were walking out to a press conference. I said, nah, I’m not going to—or, we’re not going to give you the billion dollars. They said, you have no authority. You’re not the president. The president said—I said, call him. (Laughter.) I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time." (Emphasis added.)