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CNN, MSNBC Mislead on Ukraine Story

Several mainstream media outlets appear to have selectively edited President Donald Trump’s remarks in a phone call to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to make it look as if Trump were demanding action against Joe Biden as a condition of economic aid.

With a chyron under her reading [1], “WH Transcript Shows Trump Pushed Ukraine To Investigate Biden,” a CNN anchor said [1]: “A just-released transcript of a phone call shows President Trump asking Ukrainian president Zelensky to investigate his political rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden. And in this call, the president repeatedly stresses how much the U.S. does for Ukraine.”

Then, the screen shifts to what is made to look like an outtake from the call transcript. “TRUMP: ‘I would like you to do us a favor,’” it reads [1]. The anchor reads it dramatically, “I would like … you … to do us a favor,” she says.

Then, it shifts immediately to much further down the transcript, where it says [1]: “TRUMP: There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that 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.”

The anchor says over this [1]: “The president asks Zelensky to dig up dirt on Biden and his son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his dad was vice president.”

Katy Tur of MSNBC joined in.

Tur introduced the segment [2], saying she’s discussing “a summary or notes of a conversation he had with the man that was sitting to his right … the president of Ukraine, when he says, “Will you do me a favor and investigate Vice President Biden’s son. Will you do me a favor and get involved in the 2020 election? Vice President Biden is my chief political opponent.’ At that point, he was leading Donald Trump quite a lot in the polls.”

What Trump actually said: [3] “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot 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 … I guess you have one of your wealthy people … the server, they say, Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.”

Crowdstrike is a cybersecurity consulting firm that was hired by the Democratic National Committee in 2016 to examine its server to try to determine who hacked its emails [4] and delivered them to Wikileaks.

After reportedly examining the server, Crowdstrike blamed the Russians [4], but it never allowed any law enforcement agency to examine the server [4] – denying multiple requests from the James Comey-led FBI, which finally agreed to just accept its findings sight unseen – and the evidence for this has been questioned and now appears be part of the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham into the origins of the FBI/Department of Justice investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump is trying to get information on who actually hacked the Democrats.

Trump continues [5]: “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 to get to the bottom of it.” Trump continues on about the special counsel investigation, and Zelensky responds that he wants more cooperation with the United States. Neither Biden nor any quid pro quo has been mentioned at this stage.

The transcript of the call [5] shows Trump never came close to suggesting a quid pro quo arrangement about investigating Biden or his son. Zelensky discusses why he wants to investigate Biden’s son as well.

“The issue of the investigation of the case is actually the issue of making sure to restore the honest so we will take care of that and will work on the investigation of that case,” Ukraine’s president told Trump. [5]