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Timeline Implicates Trump

October 24th, 2019 by dk

I use this space most often to prompt people to take a wider view. I ask readers to consider historical precedents or long-term consequences of immediate events. I tease out absurdities when a convenient thought pattern is pushed to the nth degree. I peek around corners that are otherwise obscured by logic. It’s called “exploding the frame.”

It’s honorable work on most days, and I count it a privilege to be able to do it. But today, let’s do the opposite. Forget the big picture. Examine the details that may have been overlooked instead. Ignore the forest and focus on a tree or two.

Since the whistleblower’s concerns first became known, Washington has been abuzz about President Donald Trump’s phone call to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. What was said? What does it mean? Was it treason or statecraft? Trump, who willingly released the summary memo, called the conversation “perfect.”

All sides will not agree about what was said and why. But “when” is not in dispute. The call began at 9:03 AM on Thursday, July 25, lasting approximately 30 minutes.

Zelensky was elected on April 21. He became Ukraine’s president on May 20. Yet Trump’s congratulatory phone call came on July 25. Why the delay of two or three months before congratulating a neophyte head of state — especially when his story is oddly similar to Trump’s own? It bears some explaining.

Democrats have argued that Trump wanted first to withhold some much-needed foreign aid, casting Zelensky as supplicant to the United States. That may have been part of the motivation behind Trump’s timing, but Democrats should have learned from the Mueller report that Americans need a simpler story line.

A more compelling case can be made by noting what was on Trump’s mind the morning of the phone call. It’s not hard to imagine, because Trump’s Twitter feed offers a direct view into his mind. He was thinking about what Fox & Friends — and everyone else in America — was talking about that morning.

The news cycle was completely dominated by Robert Mueller’s halting and hesitant public testimony the previous afternoon. One quote from Mueller captures it well: “The president was not exculpated for the acts that he allegedly committed.”

After two years of intrigue, and a two-volume report that very few people read, the head of the appointed special counsel gave his public testimony for all Americans to see. For those who hadn’t read the book, the movie had just come out. And the reviews were not good.

Mark Levin was the final guest on Fox & Friends — “a great guy,” according to Trump’s tweet at 7:39 AM. Levin speculated whether Mueller’s heretofore hidden dementia had been on full display.

Mueller’s testimony ended any possibility that Trump would face any consequence — exculpated or not — for inviting Russia’s help in his 2016 election. And what’s the first thing he does from the Oval Office after that news has sunk in? He calls another head of state and asks for help in his 2020 election. That may be all Americans need to know — just that, right there.


Don Kahle ( writes a column each Friday for The Register-Guard and blogs at Every Trump tweet has been archived at

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