GOP leader claims he didn't read Trump's Ukraine call memo — but is already lying about it


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spreads disinformation about the phone call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy lied to reporters on Wednesday morning in some of his first public comments about the White House memo summarizing Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

After telling reporters he had not read the memo, McCarthy then falsely claimed it was Zelensky, not Trump, who first brought up former Vice President Joe Biden.

"Who brought [Biden's name] up?" McCarthy asked. "The president of Ukraine brought it up."

In fact, the memo from the White House (which is a summary of the July 25 call) clearly shows it was Trump who brought up Biden's name, asking Zelensky to dig up dirt on his political rival.

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great," Trump told Zelensky, according to the memo.

The phone call is at the center of a scandal threatening to take down Trump's presidency. After admitting in June that he would gladly accept damaging political information about a political opponent from a foreign country (an illegal act), the memo released by the White House shows Trump appearing to solicit such dirt on a potential 2020 political opponent.

As Ellen Weintraub, chair of the Federal Election Commision, previously noted in June, it is "illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election."

McCarthy was not the only GOP leader to begin the day by spreading misinformation about Trump's actions. Republican Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) released a statement defending Trump's actions as well, saying, "[I]t is clear that there was absolutely no quid pro quo, and no laws broken on the call."

According to the chair of the FEC, quid pro quo is not necessary for solicitation of something of value from a foreign national to be illegal.

Democrats, by contrast, spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday reacting to the latest White House scandal with disappointment and outrage.

"This goes beyond poor judgment or an ethical lapse on the President's part," Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote on Twitter. "This is premeditated, criminal behavior."

Reacting to claims by Republicans in Congress, Himes added that there was "no other way to parse this call than to understand that President Trump is seeking direct aid from a foreign country to discredit and smear former Vice President Biden."

"My [Republican] colleagues may twist themselves into pretzels to say otherwise," he said.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.