On November 13, acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor testified that U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland called President Donald Trump from a cell phone in Kyiv, Ukraine, in what national security experts say was an extraordinary breach of security. The Fox & Friends hosts drastically watered down the significance of this revelation, leaving out key details from Taylor’s testimony.
During Wednesday’s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Taylor testified that a “member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone” asking Sondland about “the investigations,” referring to Trump’s campaign to pressure Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company whose board Biden’s son Hunter served on. According to Taylor, Sondland told Trump that “the Ukrainians were ready to move forward” with the investigations.
National security experts have emphasized the remarkable security breach in making a private cell phone call to the president. Larry Pfeiffer, former chief of staff to the CIA director, said that “the security ramifications are insane -- using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States.” He pointed out that Ukraine is a country “that is so wired with Russian intelligence, you can almost take it to the bank that the Russians were listening in on the call.” Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted that “ambassadors rarely call presidents directly” and stressed that “that usually happens only during a major crisis.”
McFaul concluded that the phone call underscores how invested Trump was in pursuing the investigations:
Washington Post national security reporter Ellen Nakashima also emphasized the likelihood that Russia could have been listening in on the phone call, pointing to past instances of Russia interfering phone calls happening in Kyiv. And a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid accusations of political bias, claimed that the phone call is “indicative of a lack of concern for operational security,” adding that senior officials “are routinely briefed on the threats to their communications.”
Despite the overwhelming security breach that the phone call posed, and Fox’s past obsession with supposed national security breaches involving high-level communications and a certain secretary of state, the Fox & Friends hosts drastically downplayed the significance of this revelation. Doocy began by saying that “most of what we heard yesterday we had already heard before” and “there weren’t any real cliffhangers” during the testimony aside from Taylor’s testimony about Holmes, which he described as revealing that “a staff member by the name of David Holmes overheard one side of a phone call.” Doocy then attacked the Democrats for inviting Holmes to testify in a closed-door hearing, saying that “rather than on TV, cause we’d all like to hear it, he is going to go into that soundproof room down in the basement of the Capitol so that the Democrats can control the narrative in case he does not say exactly what they want.”
Doocy failed to mention that the phone call was with Trump, and that the topic of the phone call was the investigations that are at the center of the impeachment inquiry. Fox & Friends also failed to provide any context about the massive security breach Trump and Sondland engaged in. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt then pivoted to the Fox mantra that the testimony was “all based on opinions” and “hearsay.”