Democrat Nancy Gertner, a former judge and frequent Op-Ed columnist for the Boston Globe, surprised me today with her claim that Trump should be impeached. It was soooo out of character. Except there is a major problem and flaw in her logic:
She used a made-up quote to support her flimsy case. Maybe that’s why her entire column reads like a parody. Calling Adam Schiff!
That a lawyer and judge would quote someone, using quotation marks, and do so falsely and with obvious malice, is quite remarkable. I’d call it a new journalistic (and legal) low.
I don’t normally grade editorial columns for bias, but when you quote someone directly and purposely misquote them, and it goes through whatever screening and review process the Boston Globe has (or doesn’t have, perhaps in this case), it is an error so bad that just condemning it is not enough. So I am going to give this an “F” grade for bias. For the judge, she can think of this like when an error is so egregious, normal sanctions simply don’t apply.
The error also indicates that Gertner paid no attention to Republican rebuttals during the impeachment inquiry hearings, because her misquote was very similar to a line of reasoning the Republicans used repeatedly. They said that Democrats were falsely quoting Donald Trump when they claimed he said “do me a favor, though…” In fact, the quote is “I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.” (And that is the exact quote from the transcript.)
Judge Gertner, who either can’t read or can’t write (or perhaps both) quotes President Trump in her column this way:
“I have a favor to ask of you though”.
Wrong. Incorrect. Misquote!
She then goes on to claim that Trump asked for two investigations, the Bidens and the 2016 election. But the “favor,” according to the transcript that Gertner obviously never reviewed, only refers to the 2016 election. The entire paragraph refers to 2016, not the Bidens. Only later were the Bidens mentioned as part of a laundry list of open questions that Zelensky could speak with Rudy and Bill Barr about.
Here is the transcript link: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Unclassified09.2019.pdf
Actually, the entire piece is not trash. Gertner does give us insight into how she used this false quote. She called it “direct evidence.” She defined it this way:
There is both direct and circumstantial evidence of misconduct. As I told juries when I was a federal judge, direct evidence is evidence that you see with your eyes, hear with your ears, like “I saw the mailman put mail in the mailbox.’’ Circumstantial evidence is based on what your senses tell you, but it also requires that you draw reasonable inferences from it, like, “I see there is mail in the box; the mailman must have been here.’’ (emphasis mine).
The direct evidence? The July 25 call in which President Trump said to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, “I have a favor to ask of you though,’’ and asked him to investigate the Bidens and 2016 election meddling….
So I think we can draw the inference that former Judge Nancy Gertner watches a lot of CNN or MSNBC. While we know she didn’t listen to the Republican rebuttals, she might have also tuned in to the Democrats as they spinned their web of false facts and innuendo.
Just as the Republicans had complained, many commentators were sloppily mis-quoting the transcript. They wanted to make it sound like President Trump was asking for a personal favor. ‘Can you do me a favor….’
Gertner must have heard a version of that, and made it her own. (Witnesses often mis-remember key things, something the judge probably knows well.) In her mind, Trump was asking Zelensky for a personal favor. So she changed Trump’s words from “I would like you to do us a favor” (us, meaning the United States), to “I have a favor to ask of you though” (meaning a favor for Trump.)
You might not think there is a big difference, but it is key. In President Trump’s mind, he was not looking for a personal favor. He was asking Zelensky to help the United States because “our country” has been through a lot, meaning the Mueller investigation, and also election interference.
So while Gertner committed journalistic malpractice by misquoting someone, and committed legal malpractice by putting the words in quotation marks and then calling it direct evidence, she perhaps is just a mistaken witness who picked the wrong guy out of the lineup, and I’m sure she is sorry.
How do I know she is sorry? Because she told us that her Op-Ed was not “a partisan hit job.” In fact, she shouts it in the title.
I don’t know if that is circumstantial or direct evidence. Either way, can I quote her on that?
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