As the president asked me to do, I have read and reread the transcript of his telephone conversation with the President of Ukraine. Though this transcript is not a verbatim recounting of the conversation, it does hit the highlights based on recollections of those who silently participated on the call. Fast forward to January 2020 and the country is about to engage in only the third impeachment trial in U.S. history. I will admit to being swayed by what I read in the call transcript and am of the feeling that what was conveyed by Mr. Trump was inappropriate.


The president has called the impeachment process conducted by the House of Representatives a “hoax,” a “witch hunt,” and “unconstitutional.” He has stated many times he “did nothing wrong.” What I am having trouble understanding is if, indeed, he did nothing wrong, then would not a full, verbatim transcript of the phone call validate this claim? Wouldn’t testimony from senior aides who briefed the president prior to the call and then participated in the actual call clarify thoughts conveyed prior or subsequent to the “do me a favor” phrase actually change the entire context in which this phrase has been publicly taken?


I can appreciate the need for a degree of Executive Privilege as any president conducts foreign policy negotiations. However, in the instant case, Mr. Trump’s words may have been taken out of context, so I wonder why his staff would not carefully review and judiciously make public information that would clearly exonerate him. Those senior administration officials who have thus far remained silent, voluntarily or otherwise, could easily set the record straight.


The same degree of clarity could and should be applied to the adjunct issue of the delay in the transfer of congressionally approved funds for military aid to Ukraine. This delay was probably not any sort of this-for-that type arrangement. Even if it was, I have no doubt prior administrations have undertaken similar actions in furtherance of a U.S. foreign policy goal. In the matter before us, it would certainly be beneficial if senior administration officials would stick to one explanation of the delay. Even more beneficial would be testimony under oath as to why this delay occurred and what prompted it. This would exonerate the president and render a major element of this impeachment process moot.


My point is this whole impeachment process should never have been initiated if only the administration had placed before the public a full and complete record, edited for national security purposes. Had senior officials been permitted to step forward and speak freely about activities precedent to, during, and subsequent to this now-infamous phone call, we would likely not be where we are today. Instead, from the president we heard only “it was a perfect call” and “I did nothing wrong.” From senior administration officials we have heard either silence or multiple variations on a theme of explanation. Just saying that “Democrats are out to get the president” or lighting up Twitter with a bunch of juvenile tweets is really not a viable rebuttal to the outstanding allegations. Or, dare I think this, was there a nefarious objective to be realized and to go public with the full record could indeed be incriminating?


Doylestown Township resident Alan Gaudio is a member of The Intelligencer/Bucks County Courier Times editorial board.