The New York Times may have just backed up a key Trump administration talking point on Ukraine, ironically while trying to bury the president.
Democrats in Washington are busy pushing closed-door impeachment efforts against President Donald Trump based on the unproven allegation that he used foreign aid as a bargaining chip during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But a key part of the Democratic case seems to have fallen apart, and the left-leaning Times inadvertently confirmed it. On Wednesday, the newspaper ran a piece that was meant to discredit the president’s defense on the ongoing scandal. Instead, it seems to have helped him.
“To Democrats who say that President Trump’s decision to freeze $391 million in military aid was intended to bully Ukraine’s leader into carrying out investigations for Mr. Trump’s political benefit, the president and his allies have had a simple response: There was no quid pro quo because the Ukrainians did not know assistance had been blocked,” the paper wrote.
“In fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.”
There is a strong “gotcha” feel to the newspaper’s piece, as if its editors had just dismantled all of the White House’s arguments. A quick review of the timeline, however, suggests that the opposite is true. The report actually seems to confirm what Republicans have been arguing for weeks.
“The New York Times unwittingly confirmed the veracity of the GOP argument that there could be no quid pro quo because Ukraine did not know the United States had delayed the release of aid for the Eastern European country at the time of the July 25 call,” a Breitbart article explained on Thursday.
That July 25 date is crucial. That’s when Trump spoke on the phone to Ukraine’s president and mentioned questionable business deals involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and the former Soviet nation — deals that put big money into the pocket of the younger Biden under vague circumstances.
Even the White House acknowledges that the call took place, and that the president did bring up the shady Biden dealings. But officials who were on the same call — along with a partial transcript of the conversation — reveal no explicit quid pro quo regarding aid to Ukraine.
Indeed, if the Times report is correct, officials in Ukraine didn’t even find out that funds had been delayed until August. In other words, it would be seemingly impossible for Trump to have offered the quid pro quo deal that Democrats allege.
“Zelensky himself has acknowledged that ‘there was no blackmail’ during the call, citing as evidence that he ‘had no idea the military aid was held up’ at the time of his July 25 phone conversation with Trump,” Breitbart explained.
Additional evidence seems to back this up. Ukraine apparently only discovered that aid might be held up from a Politico story a month after the alleged quid pro quo phone call took place.
As former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker confirmed in text messages collected as part of the House investigation, it wasn’t until well after the infamous July 25 call that the foreign government even found out that security aid had been paused.
“On August 28, President Zelensky’s aide, Andrey Yermak, texted Ambassador Volker a news story entitled, ‘Trump Holds Up Ukraine Military Aid Meant to Confront Russia,'” a released House document revealed.
“Need to talk with you,” Yermak said just minutes before texting the news story about aid being delayed. His urgent tone suggests that this was the first his people had heard about the aid delay, over a month after the July call from Trump.
Here’s the bottom line: You simply cannot have a quid pro quo arrangement when the other party doesn’t know about the quo. And on the July 25 call, Ukraine had zero idea that the aid was being held up.
There’s a good chance that like the Russian dossier and Mueller report, this is once again much ado about nothing. It sure looks like the Democrats are grasping at straws with this impeachment inquiry — and it’s starting to look desperate.
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