Trump Criticized for Ignoring Line About Military Aid in Response to Ukrainian President’s Interview

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave a new interview to media outlets, and President Donald Trump is using it to declare innocence amid the impeachment inquiry. Critics pointed out that the president made no mention of a key line from Zelensky: “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness.”

The U.S. president faces an impeachment inquiry after asking Zelensky to have Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden investigated over their connection to Burisma and the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor. Trump allegedly demanded announcements of probes in exchange for the release of congressionally appropriated military aid to Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia are in the middle of a years-long war. Here’s a timeline of events:

“Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo,” Zelensky said in a new interview with Time and some European media outlets. “That’s not my thing. … I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”

Trump said Zelensky’s interview was exculpatory.

Many pointed out the discrepancies between Trump’s statements and the Ukrainian president’s interview. After all, Zelensky was complaining about the United States withholding military aid.

“You’re just flat-out lying,” conservative critic and attorney George Conway said in response to a Trump tweet. “As usual.”

University of Alabama Law Professor and former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance highlighted the tense geopolitical position Ukraine finds itself in.

The allegation from team Trump is that during the administration of President Barack Obama, then-Vice President Biden got Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin pushed out for investigating Ukrainian gas company Burisma. Hunter Biden was on the board of directors for this business. Shokin indeed claimed that he was pushed out because he was running the investigation into the company. At the time of Shokin’s 2016 resignation, however, he faced pressure over international concerns that he wasn’t investigating corruption.

Trump says that his infamous July 25 call with Zelensky was “perfect,” but testimony from career U.S. diplomat David Holmes indicated that the Ukrainians were cognizant that the American president wanted something from them.

“Although the hold on the security assistance may have been lifted, there were still things they wanted that they weren’t getting, including a meeting with the president in the Oval Office,” Holmes said, according to The Washington Post. “Whether the hold, the security assistance hold, continued or not, Ukrainians understood that that’s something the president wanted and they still wanted important things from the president. So I think that continues to this day. I think they’re being very careful. They still need us now going forward.”

[Image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images]

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