With Democrats shifting away from quid pro quo to charge President Donald Trump with bribery in the Ukrainian fiasco they have drummed up, the party’s impeachment inquisition hit a bit of a snag.
After all, how could the president use military aid to bribe Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, as Democrats allege if the bribe was never offered?
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday that the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, did not tie military aid to investigations in the notoriously corrupt nation.
“Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and did not tell me exactly, about the relation between the assistance and the investigations. You should ask him. I do not recall any conversation with me as with foreign minister. It was not we, the Ukrainian officials (who were told this),” Prystaiko said Thursday in Kyiv, according to Interfax-Ukraine.
“I have never seen a direct link between investigations and security assistance. Yes, investigations were mentioned, you know, in a presidential conversation,” he added. “But there was no clear connection between these events.”
Lost in the mix, courtesy of the media, is that President Trump was looking for the country to get to the bottom of possible interference in the 2016 election, and Biden threatening to withhold $1 billion in aid to pressure Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company that paid Biden’s son up to $50,000 a month to sit on its board.
Democrats, with a heavy media assist, have spun this to say Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate his political rival, given that Biden is running for president.
The so-called “bombshell” from Wednesday’s impeachment hearing was that Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor testified that an aide overheard Trump speaking to the Sondland, about “the investigations.”
Never mind that Taylor did not hear the call himself.
This coming the day after Trump’s infamous telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine,” Taylor told the House Intel Committee. “Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden which [Rudy] Giuliani was pressing for.”
Taylor also testified that Ukraine had no knowledge of military aid being held up until August 29th.
In a text to Taylor, Sondland was adamant about Trump’s intentions: “The President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind.”
“The President is trying to evaluate whether Ukraine is truly going to adopt the transparency and reforms that President Zelensky promised during his campaign,” he added.
Sondland testified to Congress that he “never heard that [military aid] was being held specifically to investigate the Bidens, but later amended his testimony to say he recalls a Sept. 1 conversation with top adviser Andriy Yermak, when he told Yermak “the resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”
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