There was No Pressure on Ukraine – President Zelensky Said So

There was No Pressure on Ukraine – President Zelensky Said So

Zelensky has three very powerful reasons to say that Trump had not pressured him:

  1. Zelensky was elected on an anti-corruption agenda. Publicly acknowledging pressure from Trump could cast doubt among the Ukrainian people regarding his motives if he moved forward with the requested investigations. It is reasonable to think that he may have believed that he needed to do those investigations to ensure Ukraine’s safety.
  2. Ukraine is dependent on military aid from the United States. If Trump had demonstrated that he had the power and the will to stop the flow of that aid, Ukraine’s survival could depend on Zelensky staying on Trump’s good side.
  3. Russia is watching all of this like a wolf watches a flock of sheep, looking for any sign of weakness. Zelensky and Ukraine benefit by giving the appearance that all is normal in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, and there are no weak links that can be exploited by Russia.

For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

The Ukrainians Didn’t Even Know that Aid was being Withheld

The Ukrainians Didn’t Even Know that Aid was being Withheld

On June 18, 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense publicly announced the release of $250 million in military aid to Ukraine. It is currently unclear when the Ukrainian government became aware of the hold on aid.  It may have been before the July 25 phone call or it may have been after. However, given the fact that they had hear a over month earlier that the aid had been released, it would be reasonable for them to at least be wondering if something had changed by July 25. Below are some relevant quotes:


“But by JuIy 3rd, that’s when I was concretely made aware of the fact that there was a hold placed by OMB.”

U.S. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
National Security Counsel Ukraine Expert, Director for European Affairs
(11/19/19)


“On July 18, I participated in a … video conference where an OMB representative reported that the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, had placed an informal hold on security assistance to Ukraine. The only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the President. I had heard about the hold before that date, but I do not remember the specific date.”

Catherine Croft
U.S. State Department Ukraine Specialist


“On July 25th, a member of my staff got a question from a Ukraine embassy contact asking what was going on with Ukraine security assistance.”

Laura Cooper
U.S. Department of Defense
(11/20/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

Trump was being Fiscally Responsible with U.S. Tax Dollars

Trump was being Fiscally Responsible with U.S. Tax Dollars

Given Ukraine’s issues with corruption and the desire for more help from the EU, this could be a reasonable concern. However, the parties involved all somehow had the impression that the issue was something else.

The idea of President Trump being fiscally responsible also strains credibility: America’s national debt has soared past $23 trillion under his stewardship, and his golf trips while in office have cost U.S. taxpayers over a fourth the cost of the Congressionally approved Ukraine aid.


“I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the President did not ‘give a s–t about Ukraine.’ Ambassador Sondland agreed that the President did not ‘give a s–t about Ukraine.’ I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the President only cares about ‘big stuff.’ I noted that there was ‘big stuff’ going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia, and Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant ‘big stuff’ that benefits the President, like the ‘Biden investigation’ that Mr. Giuliani was pushing.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“I tried diligently to ask why the aid was suspended, but I never received a clear answer. In the absence of any credible explanation for the suspension of aid, I later came to believe that the resumption of security aid would not occur until there was a public statement from Ukraine committing to the investigations of the 2016 election and Burisma, as Mr. Giuliani had demanded.”

Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
(11/20/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

Trump Wanted the EU to Pay its Fair Share of Ukraine Aid

Trump Wanted the EU to Pay its Fair Share of Ukraine Aid

Part of this claim is plausible. During the July 25 phone call, President Trump mentions lack of Ukraine aid from other EU nations, and says that they should be paying more. And President Trump has made similar statements about NATO, so this appears to be an issue that he is concerned about.

However, is withholding military aid from Ukraine, leaving them vulnerable to Russia, a reasonable way to encourage the EU to pay more? Or does it merely offer an opportunity to Putin? And how does investigating the Biden’s encourage the EU to contribute more?

Regardless, the impression created in Ukraine and among our ambassadors was that the issue was something other than wanting more EU involvement.


“Also on July 20th, I had a phone conversation with Alexander Danyliuk, President Zelensky’s National Security Advisor, who emphasized that President Zelensky did not want to be used as an instrument in a U.S. reelection campaign.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

Trump Wanted to Root Out Corruption in Ukraine

Trump Wanted to Root Out Corruption in Ukraine

Ukraine has problems with corruption. That was why the Ukrainian people elected Zelensky: he promised to tackle corruption. Our U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine saw reason for optimism, and conveyed that to President Trump.

At no point before the Whistleblower Report did Trump communicate anything to Ukraine about corruption in general. Instead, he called for two specific investigations, both of them into matters that appeared to serve his own political interests.

The first investigation, into Crowdstrike, was based on a discredited conspiracy theory that the Russia was framed by Ukrainian company in 2016 to hide the fact that the Ukrainian government was doing the hacking. Generating evidence of this would help Trump by making it appear that he did not have Russian help in 2016. It would also help Russia by turning attention away from them as the culprits in the election meddling.

The second investigation was into Burisma, a company where Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son had worked and received a large amount of money. At the time, Joe Biden was Vice President and was tasked with U..S.-Ukraine relations. Generating evidence of corruption in this investigation could discredit Joe Biden and effectively remove the potential candidate about whom Trump had expressed the most concern.

If President Trump’s concern was corruption, why not encourage Zelensky to fight hard against corruption in general, instead of only specifying these two investigations?


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt

This was All Part of Official U.S. Foreign Policy

This was All Part of Official U.S. Foreign Policy

U.S. foreign policy with regard to Ukraine is to help them defend themselves against active Russian military aggression at their border. That was why Congress had approved the $400 million in military aid. Additionally, President Trump was using two channels of communication to Ukraine which had contrary purposes. If the highly unusual request for investigations were part of official U.S. foreign policy, there would have been no need to have two channels.


“I found a confusing and unusual arrangement for making U.S. policy toward Ukraine. There appeared to be two channels of U.S. policymaking and implementation, one regular and one highly irregular.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“I sensed something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28 that he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call planned with President Zelensky later that day … Ambassador Sondland said that he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“I did not see any official readout of the call [between Trump and Zelensky on July 25, 2019] until it was publicly released on September 25th.”

William Taylor
Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/13/19)


“Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray, and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want. After these events, what foreign official, corrupt or not, could be blamed for wondering whether the US ambassador represents the president’s views? And what US ambassador could be blamed for harboring the fear they can’t count on our government to support them as they implement stated US policy and protect and defend US interests?”

Marie/Masha Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/15/19)


“If we [U.S. diplomats abroad]  lose our edge, the US will inevitably have to use other tools even more than it does today, and those other tools are blunter, more expensive and not universally effective. Moreover, attacks are leading to a crisis in the State Department as the policy process is visibly unraveling. Leadership vacancies go unfilled, and senior and mid-level officers ponder an uncertain future. The crisis has moved from the impact on individuals to an impact on the institution itself. The State Department is being hollowed out from within at a competitive and complex time on the world stage.”

Marie/Masha Yovanovitch
Former US Ambassador to Ukraine
(11/15/19)


“I don’t think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these things I consider to be conspiracy theories […are…] things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine.”

Kurt Volker
Former US Special Envoy to Ukraine
(11/19/19)


“I found this particular [July 25, 2019] call subject matter and the way that it was conducted surprising.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)

NOTE: Fiona Hill was no longer White House Adviser by the time of the July 25 phone call. The statement above was in response to what she thought of what she read in the transcript.


“He [Sondland] was being involved in a domestic political errand. And we were being involved in national security foreign policy. And those two things had just diverged.”

Fiona Hill
Former White House Adviser, Former Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs
(11/21/19)


“Beginning in March, 2019 the situation at the embassy and in Ukraine changed dramatically. Specifically, the three priorities of security, economy and justice, and our support for Ukrainian democratic resistance to Russian aggression became overshadowed by a political agenda promoted by former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and a cadre of officials operating with a direct channel to the White House.
“That change began with the emergence of press reports, critical of Ambassador Yovanovitch and machinations by then-Prosecutor General Lutsenko and others to discredit her. In mid-March, 2019, an embassy colleague learned from a Ukrainian contact that Mr. Lutsenko had complained that Ambassador Yovanovitch had “destroyed him” with her refusal to support him until he followed through with his reform commitments and ceased using his position for personal gain.
“In retaliation. Mr. Lutsenko made a series of unsupported allegations against Ambassador Yovanovitch, mostly suggesting that Ambassador Yovanovitch improperly used the embassy to advance the political interests of the Democratic Party.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


“While Ambassador Sondland’s mandate as the accredited ambassador to the European Union did not cover individual member states, let alone non-member countries like Ukraine, he made clear that he had direct and frequent access to President Trump and Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, and portrayed himself as the conduit to the President and Mr. Mulvaney for this group.”

David Holmes
Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Ukraine
(11/21/19)


For more info, visit Trump-Ukraine Central


– rob rünt