Please Let Trump’s “Fireside Chat” Happen

Andrew Harrer/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

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.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate