Carol D. Leonnig, Craig Timberg, and Drew Harwell report Odd markings, ellipses fuel doubts about the ‘rough transcript’ of Trump’s Ukraine call:
President Trump said Wednesday that his controversial July call with his Ukrainian counterpart was transcribed “word-for-word, comma-for-comma,” an assertion that fueled growing questions about the nature and completeness of an official memorandum about the call released by the White House last week.
“This is an exact word-for-word transcript of the conversation, taken by very talented stenographers,” Trump said.
Current and former U.S. officials studying the document pointed to several elements that, they say, indicate that the document may have been handled in an unusual way.
Those include the use of ellipses — punctuation indicating that information has been deleted for clarity or other reasons — that traditionally have not appeared in summaries of presidential calls with foreign leaders, according to the current and former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the elaborate, non-public process.
The White House declined to comment Wednesday about the unusual markings or other apparent discrepancies. Shortly after the document’s release last week, a White House official had said that the ellipses did not indicate missing words but referred to “a trailing off of a voice or pause,” and called it standard practice for records of presidential phone calls.
Current and former officials said that would be slightly different from previous practice. They said when presidents simply trail off in a way that note-takers can’t hear, that point traditionally has been marked “[inaudible].” When fragments of sentences aren’t readily understood by note-takers, or when comments repeat a previous thought, they said, the transcripts had often been marked with dashes.
Trump, himself, claims there is a “word-for-word” transcript.
Well, then, where is it, and what does it say?