As the scandal surrounding President Donald Trump’s plot to get Ukraine to produce dirt on the Bidens continues to rage, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has now offered another rare public comment about the situation. A phone conversation that he had with Trump is at the center of the scandal, which now includes an impeachment inquiry, but he insists that he did not personally get a sense of a quid pro quo from the president. Yet, that’s not where he ends, and this next part is likely to get left out of any GOP comment about his remarks. He harshly criticized Trump for enacting the hold on aid for his country that’s been alleged to be a part of that quid pro quo.
Trump has claimed that he ordered the hold on the aid because he was concerned about corruption in Ukraine, although just to be clear, its disbursement had already been approved when Trump intervened late in the process. Additionally, Trump never mentioned anything to Zelensky other than cases involving his domestic political opponents including the Bidens and Democrats at large.
Zelensky shared, discussing the process of trying to get international support:
‘When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that sends the hardest of signals. It might seem like an easy thing to say… But it doesn’t end there. Everyone hears that signal… I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. 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.’
Indeed — the military aid that Trump blocked was meant to support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia, which has taken over the Crimean peninsula for years now. That struggle has claimed the lives of a whopping 13,000 Ukrainians and counting, and Trump was fine with suspending support against the offending army for the sake of a quick political buck.
Although the country now has the aid, it was in limbo for months, as Ukrainian officials inquired about the process and got told they needed to announce an investigation into the Bidens to free up the assistance (and make a summit in D.C. with the Trump team possible).
Although Zelensky contests the idea of an explicit quid pro quo, the facts of the president’s abuse of power are clear, no matter the format of the push. While pressuring the country to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about Democrats, Trump held up crucial aid that was eventually only released after a whistleblower complaint emerged outlining the plot.
Now, impeachment investigators are pursuing their leads, which included the recently concluded first round of public hearings focusing on fact-finding related to the Ukraine scandal. The House Judiciary Committee has another impeachment hearing scheduled for December 4, which the White House has declined to participate in.