National reporter on The Washington Post’s breaking political news team
September 25 at 1:21 PM
In the hours after the release Wednesday of the rough transcript of President Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the White House circulated an email with proposed talking points for Trump’s defenders.
Unfortunately for the White House, the email was mistakenly sent to not only Republicans but also Democratic lawmakers and their staff.
The message, titled, “What you need to know: President Trump’s call with President Zelenskyy,” was quickly recalled — but not before Democrats took to Twitter to ridicule the White House over the error.
I would like to thank @WhiteHouse for sending me their talking points on how best to spin the disastrous Trump/Zelensky call in Trump’s favor. However, I will not be using their spin and will instead stick with the truth. But thanks though.
“I would like to thank @WhiteHouse for sending me their talking points on how best to spin the disastrous Trump/Zelensky call in Trump’s favor,” Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) said in a tweet. “However, I will not be using their spin and will instead stick with the truth. But thanks though.”
Another Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (N.J.), shared the full talking points in a tweet, calling them “complete Orwellian lies and toxic trash.”
“But maybe you’d like to read them to appreciate their corruption! Hazmat suit possibly required,” he said.
The trump White House just accidentally sent our office their talking points for deflecting trump’s treachery. They’re complete Orwellian lies and toxic trash, but maybe you’d like to read them to appreciate their corruption! Hazmat ☢️ suit possibly required. pic.twitter.com/twcYGkcO7h
Several Democratic Hill staffers said they had received the talking points as well as a follow-up email recalling the message.
According to the rough transcript of the call, Trump repeatedly said Zelensky should work with Attorney General William P. Barr or Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Giuliani had separately pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate the conduct of former vice president Joe Biden.
Among the talking points distributed by the White House is the claim that there was no quid pro quo and that “what the President actually talked about was entirely proper.”
The White House argues that Trump “did not mention Rudy Giuliani or Vice President Biden until after President Zelenskyy had raised Giuliani first.” But the email glosses over the fact that Trump did mention Biden of his own accord.
The White House also claims in the email that “the real scandal” is about leaks in the run-up to the release of the rough transcript. And the email claims that the whistleblower complaint “was handled absolutely by the book and it was properly determined that no further action should be taken.”
Democrats have maintained that a quid pro quo is not necessary for the president’s conduct to be impeachable. They have also pressed for the White House to release the whistleblower complaint to the House and Senate intelligence committees, for the whistleblower to be allowed to testify and for Barr to recuse himself until the matter is resolved.