DEBUNKING MYTHS ABOUT TRUMP'S BETRAYAL
Trump’s call with President Zelensky
did not include a quid pro quo.
Trump abused the office of the presidency and used all of the power of the U.S. government – including taxpayer resources – to pressure Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 election.
By conditioning military aid on a promise to investigate his political opponent, Trump betrayed our democracy and undermined our national security. No number of Trump denials can obscure the facts that we already know.
During the July 25 call, President Trump told Zelensky, “I would like you to do us a favor” before explicitly asking him to undertake politically motivated investigations. Recently surfaced text messages between a U.S. ambassador and a State Department official revealed that U.S. officials were concerned with a quid pro quo.
And in a press conference on October 17, Trump’s own Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney conceded that the White House withheld military aid pending the investigation of Trump’s domestic political opponents.
The White House used standard
practices to protect the call
The White House’s handling of the transcript and placement in the ‘code word’ server, rather than the usual classified server, was a highly unusual decision undertaken as part of a wide-ranging cover-up.
White House officials ordered information about President Trump’s call with Zelensky to be removed from the classified server typically used to store such information and placed on a hyper-secure “code word” server, typically reserved for material of the gravest sensitivity — like the detailed information about covert operations where exposure can get people killed.
Since then, the administration has tried to cover up its wrongdoing at every turn: the administration initially refused to transmit the whistleblower complaint to Congress and the public, the Attorney General refused to recuse himself and instead exonerated the President, and the administration has refused to comply with the impeachment inquiry even as its own officials repeatedly come forward with incriminating evidence.
Trump withheld aid to pressure
Ukraine to tackle corruption, and
foreign aid is routinely used in this way.
Trump has specified he is concerned with a political rival, not corruption in Ukraine generally. Overall, corruption in Ukraine is a long-standing problem that has been improving – without cutting off aid.
Instead, the U.S. has leveraged multilateral diplomacy and smart aid initiatives to incentivize and aid Ukraine in improving transparency and the rule of law. All the while, security assistance has flowed uninterrupted. In accordance with this process, Undersecretary of Defense John Rood certified Ukraine is meeting anti-corruption goals with the help of U.S. security assistance, progress that was reflected in Zelensky’s election on an anti-corruption platform.
Trump delayed assistance to Ukraine in order
to pressure our European allies like Germany to
pay their fair share in supporting Ukraine.
Testimony from administration officials has underscored that the assistance was delayed in order to pressure Ukraine to investigate the Bidens for Trump. Ambassador McKinley testified that he was “disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents.”
The EU and its member states give Ukraine more overall aid than the United States does, exposing the hollowness of Trump’s claims. The EU is Ukraine’s largest aid donor, and has granted more than $710 million annually to Ukraine since 2014.
Additionally, Germany has provided Ukraine with $1.3 billion of bilateral financial aid since 2014. Through NATO’s Comprehensive Assistance Package to Ukraine, the UK has trained nearly 10,000 Ukrainian troops. And Germany and France have taken on a significant role in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, working to arrange the 2015 Minsk agreement.
Withholding aid did not harm
Ukraine’s security in any meaningful way.
Withholding aid to Ukraine signals that the U.S. does not stand by Ukraine, creates uncertainty and emboldens Russia.
The ongoing war in eastern Ukraine has taken over 10,000 lives, split a previously united country, and, as Russia hoped, hamstrung Ukraine’s stability, prosperity, and prospects for integrating into democratic Europe. All the while, Crimea remains under illegal Russian occupation. Ukrainians continue to die to prevent Russia from pushing deeper into their country, and they rely on U.S. assistance to have a fighting chance against Russia’s far superior forces.
By flippantly holding Ukraine hostage to his own interests, Trump signaled to Russia that he cares more about his petty politics than he does the viability and national security of a U.S. partner – giving them the green light to push forward.
CrowdStrike covered up information about
the 2016 DNC hack to frame Russia for
interfering in our elections. President
Ukraine is harboring a hidden DNC server.
2016 election interference, and whether
Trump wants to get to the bottom of
The CrowdStrike ‘server’ theory is a debunked conspiracy that aims to undermine the judgment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
The baseless conspiracy that Ukraine is harboring a DNC server originated with a Russian intelligence operation, which sought to cast doubt on the assessment that the Kremlin interfered in our 2016 election. The FBI thoroughly investigated the DNC hack and examined dozens of servers used by the DNC and the DCCC. Crowdstrike cooperated with the FBI during the investigation, and U.S. officials found no evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims.
By continually peddling this conspiracy theory – whose biggest proponent is Russia, because it absolves them of guilt while undermining Ukraine, a key Russian goal – Trump ignores the conclusions of the FBI and the Special Counsel’s investigations, and even the recommendations of his own advisors, who have called the theory “completely debunked.”
Ambassador Yovanovitch was working
against the Trump administration in Ukraine.
There is absolutely no evidence to support this brazen attack on a highly-respected career foreign service officer. Ambassador Yovanovitch was working to fight corruption in Ukraine in line with U.S. policy.
In fact, the whole conspiracy began after Ukraine’s former corrupt Prosecutor Lutsenko made up a lie about Ambassador Yovanovitch for doing her job in retaliation for a speech she gave lambasting him and then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko for failing to do enough to stop corruption. For his own narrow political reasons, Trump propagated this conspiracy theory and ultimately recalled Yovanovitch from her post.
In contrast, Trump administration officials have defended Yovanovitch. Ambassador Kurt Volker testified that Yovanovitch is “professional, capable, dedicated to the national interest, and of the highest integrity.” And Ambassador Michael McKinley testified that the “utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives” was a principal reason for his resignation. Fiona Hill, the Trump administration’s former senior director for European and Russian affairs, reportedly “had high praise for Yovanovitch” in closed-door testimony.
Zelensky's words prove there
was no pressure from Trump.
Zelensky repeating Trump’s lines shows the lengths he will go to protect his security assistance, only further exposing Trump’s pressure tactics.
Trump wasn’t serious about
openly asking China to
investigate a political rival.
Transparent abuse of power doesn’t absolve wrongdoing. Given the opportunity to clarify, Trump did not claim to be joking. He said “if China wants to look into something, I think that’s great."
Trump was as serious in making this claim as he was in pressuring Zelensky — that he did it publicly made it more shocking, but not any less wrong. Even in the midst of a scandal over his impeachable conduct in Ukraine, Trump proved that he simply can’t help but always put himself first.