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CNN sided with President Trump this week, agreeing in a fact check that two House Democrats, both from Texas, had misquoted the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky during a House Judiciary Committee impeachment markup session.
In a Twitter message Thursday, Trump wrote that Reps. Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, and Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston, “purposely misquoted my call.”
“I said I want you to do us (our Country!) a favor, not me a favor. They know that but decided to LIE in order to make a fraudulent point! Very sad,” the president wrote.
In the declassified transcript of the call, Trump tells Zelensky, “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot.”
CNN Politics’ Fact Check pointed out that Escobar and Jackson Lee either changed or omitted the word “us” when quoting the transcript in the markup session. The word “us” is significant because it implies Trump was asking for a favor of national interest, instead of a personal favor against a political rival.
Escobar claimed Trump said: “I want you to do me a favor though.”
Jackson Lee misquoted the call in the markup session, saying Trump told Zelensky: “I would like you to do a favor though.”
House Democrats announced earlier in the week they were filing two articles of impeachment against Trump, accusing him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The abuse-of-power charge accuses Trump of using his presidential authority to urge Ukraine to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, under a quid pro quo agreement, effectively withholding military aid as leverage.
The obstruction-of-Congress charge relates to the White House preventing current and former administration officials from participating in the House-led impeachment inquiry.
The House Judiciary Committee’s markup session gave each lawmaker a chance to weigh in on the articles, debating the words and phrases that will be included, then ended with a vote to send the impeachment filing to the House floor for a vote.
Like Trump, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also pointed out that Escobar and Jackson Lee did not use the word “us” and, therefore, misquoted the transcript of the call.
Escobar responded to Trump’s tweet, first addressing him with the Russian greeting “Приве́т.”
“The fact of the matter is that if a local official abused his power like you did, he’d be in jail,” she tweeted. “If that official failed to respond to subpoenas and obstructed an investigation, he’d be in jail. No one is above the law, not even you.”
Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan, who was one of three Democrat-called legal experts to testify before the House Judiciary Committee last week, claimed Trump was using what she called “the royal we” on the call with Zelensky.
“When the President said ‘do us a favor,’ he was using the royal we there,” she said. “It wasn’t a favor for the United States. He should have said do me a favor because only kings say ‘us’ when they mean ‘me’.”
During the hearing, Karlan also drew ire from the White House, the Trump campaign and even first lady Melania Trump after using 13-year-old Barron Trump’s name to illustrate her point that President Trump can’t rule like a king. George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley was the fourth witness in that hearing and the sole expert called by the GOP.