A reporter asked Representative Debbie Lesko to defend President Trump asking a foreign country to investigate a political rival. Republicans have a practiced defense against this charge: They change the question to “corruption,” insisting that Trump has a right to investigate it, and pretend that’s what Trump actually did.
The thing about this defense is that it relies on deflecting reality, refusing to engage with the facts, and conjuring an alternative set of facts. Instead of that, Lesko simply insisted Trump never called for the investigation of a rival:
Trump definitely did that. In the transcript of his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump said, “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. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
And lest there be any confusion about this, Trump was asked in early October on the White House lawn what he wanted Ukraine to do. He said it should investigate the Bidens:
Republicans are trying to pretend this didn’t happen by imagining he meant something else. It’s like crossing over into a fictional world. In the Republican cinematic universe, Trump is a hero deeply concerned with corruption. The story only works if you stay within the bounds of the fantasy. You can’t just have a Marvel comic superhero talk about the fact that superpowers don’t exist. The point of the Republican fictional scenario is to avoid dealing with evidence, not to straight-up deny things that happened in front of our faces.