Donald Trump went on and on about “Crooked Hillary” during the election. However, it turns out that a billionaire from the Ukraine paid Trump $150,000 for a speech.
That’s right. After all the accusations the president-elect heaped on Hillary Clinton, it turns out the Donald’s got some conflicts of interest of his own. BuzzFeed reports the Trump Foundation’s newly released tax returns show the Victor Pinchuk Foundation’s London office made a hefty donation in 2015 for that speech:
‘A Ukrainian oligarch who donated millions to the Clinton Foundation over the years made a $150,000 donation to the Donald Trump Foundation as a speaking fee for Trump.’
That’s a bit less than the $225,000 in speakers fees Goldman Sachs and others paid Hillary Clinton to speak at their gatherings. Then again, at least the former secretary of state actually came and delivered her speeches in person. Donald Trump, on the other hand, gave his speech via video link.
Thomas Weihe, who runs the Pinchuk Foundation’s board, told BuzzFeed via email:
‘The payment to President-elect Trump’s foundation was in support of video link appearance at a conference called Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting, which the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy (YES) — an NGO founded by Mr. Pinchuk — organize annually in September in Ukraine.’
Had anyone else given a speech to this gathering in the Ukraine, it may not have raised so many hackles. As far as oligarchs from Eastern Europe with ties to Russia go, Victor Pinchuk is a mixed bag.
On the one hand, Russian utility companies like Gazprom and Rosneft buy seamless pipes and related products from Pinchuk’s company, Interpipe Corp. On the other hand, he actually invented the way those pipes are made, and is widely seen as a pro-Western internationalist who has given much to modernize the Ukraine. In 2014, Forbes reported him as the first oligarch in Eastern Europe to take Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gates’ “Giving Pledge,” which demands giving away at least half his wealth.
In 2014, the oligarch from the Ukraine was worth $3.2 billion. Now he’s worth “just” $1.43 billion. BuzzFeed also mentions Victor Pinchuk has donated “millions to the Clinton Foundation over the years.” Still, this doesn’t look good, given Donald Trump’s alarming ties to our long-time national enemy, Russia.
Donald Trump vowed to his supporters that he would “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. Now he’s looking more and more like one of the alligators that needs to get drained.