The transcript at the center of President Donald Trump's purported Ukraine scandal became available to the public on Wednesday. Recent reports accuse Trump of pushing the country's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to dig up dirt on Democratic rival and presidential candidate Joe Biden. While many legal experts say it's worse than expected, others, such as conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, believe that the content of the report is more ambiguous.
During a lengthy Twitter thread, Shapiro suggests that people's perceptions of Trump will be one of the determining factors behind their belief in what the transcript portrays.
"The interpretation will be a complete Rorschach test," he tweeted. "If you see Trump as a calculating gangster, this reads like a veiled quid pro quo. He opens by mentioning aid, then immediately swivels to talk about Crowdstrike, Biden, and Giuliani."
Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee and one of the people leading the impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions, seemingly appears to be one such person. According to Schiff, Trump's comments are akin to a mob threat.
"Nice country you got there," he tweeted. "It would be a shame if something happened to her."
Ukraine is desperately in need of military aid due to Russian invasions in the eastern portion of the country. The war began in 2014 and has reportedly killed approximately 13,000 people. Schiff and others that agree with him believe that Trump's timing of the mention of military aid was designed to pressure Zelensky to do him a favor.
But according to Shapiro, people who see Trump as a "fragmentary thinker and generalized blurter-of-things" will read the transcript less as damning evidence of undermining U.S. democracy and more just a "list of unrelated thoughts" that he was thinking of at the moment.Regardless, although the 35-year-old isn't sold on whether the transcript proves Trump was leveraging military aid for a favor, he still condemned the president's behavior.
"So is this him conditioning aid? That's utterly unclear from the transcript itself. It's bad behavior, of course — ugly and inappropriate. If you're inclined to think of the whole conversation as a negotiation over aid, this is damning."Others are not so forgiving of Trump's behavior. Independent Justin Amash, who was the first Republican to call for the president's impeachment during his time with the GOP, believes that the transcript is damning. But Amash tweeted that the scandal is "not just about a call," adding that the focus should primarily be on Trump's "continuing abuse of the office of the presidency."
Since the Ukraine scandal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced formal impeachment proceedings into Trump's behavior. The move comes after months of increased pressure from Democrats to impeach Trump in the wake of Robert Muller's report into Russian interference in the 2016 election.