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Government

Implications of the Trump/Ukraine Timeline

While there's a lot of mainstream-media speculation, here's what is known.

Thomas Gallatin · Sep. 24, 2019

As the news churns about a July 25th phone call President Donald Trump made to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and $391 million in proposed military aid to Ukraine, Democrats and their Leftmedia chorus claim Trump was engaged in a quid pro quo to get dirt on Joe Biden, using that military aid as leverage. Of course, that is fodder for yet more of their perpetual impeachment rhetoric, which they have been shouting since Trump’s election. The story of the boy who cried wolf comes to mind.

So, do Democrats actually have a legitimate case this time, or is this just another hoax? In an effort to lay out the facts, and in order to avoid falling into the endless speculation game, what follows is a timeline of the events in question.

What came first — Trump’s phone call with Zelensky, or the decision by the Trump administration to withhold the $391 million in military aid to Ukraine? Answer: The decision to withhold military aid came first — more than a week before Trump’s July 25th phone call with Zelensky.

What motivated the Trump administration to withhold the military aid? Answer: According to the White House, the primary concern was corruption within the Ukrainian government. Furthermore, the Washington Examiner reports that the Trump administration wanted time to determine whether the newly elected Zelensky was pro-West or pro-Russia. On Sept. 2, Vice President Mike Pence met Zelenksy, and the following day he said, “As President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.”

When were the funds released and what were the circumstances surrounding their release? Answer: The administration released the aid on Sept. 12 as lawmakers led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) threatened legislation to force Trump to release the aid. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) was also on board with Durbin, stating, “We support Ukraine. Period. End of discussion.” While that effort was bipartisan, it was Democrat led. Why were Democrats so keen on making sure these funds were given to Ukraine? That’s not yet clear.

Then last week the news broke that a “whistleblower” had contacted the inspector general of the intelligence community to file a complaint over a phone call in which Trump was alleged to have made a problematic “promise” to a foreign leader. It has since been learned that this “whistleblower” came by the information secondhand, though the circumstances surrounding how this individual acquired the information are not yet known.

This morning, Trump noted that in addition to concerns about corruption, his administration withheld funds in part because other European nations weren’t contributing enough. “I’d withhold again and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine because they’re not doing it,” he said.

Clearly, there are many questions that need to be answered, and Trump, who has explicitly denied having engaged in any quid pro quo with Zelensky, might do well to preemptively release the transcript of the call in question. Should Trump’s description of the conversation be accurate, it would certainly take a lot of wind out of the Democrats’ impeachment hysteria — even if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is strategically floating the idea. But Demo operatives have likely already seen the conversation transcript and think they can spin it up in order to divert attention from Joe Biden’s “Ukraine problem.”

Central to the Demos’ claim is that Trump was using his office to undermine Biden’s campaign. But, why would Trump demand that Zelensky dig up dirt on Biden when all the dirt on both Joe and Hunter Biden was already public? It would seem that concern over corruption would be a more likely Trump motive. Could the newly elected Ukrainian president’s government be trusted to take $400 million in aid and allocate it to the Ukrainian military, or would it be siphoned off into the overseas bank accounts of various corrupt Ukrainian government officials?

(Updated.)

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