One of Trump’s Biggest Defenses in the Ukraine Scandal Falls Apart

Ron Sachs/ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

In a Wednesday morning tweet, Donald Trump pointed his supporters to a Fox News segment from the night before, during which Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) denied that the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats didn’t constitute a quid pro quo.

“You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo,” Ratcliffe had insisted, a sound-bite friendly way of claiming that such a scenario was legally impossible because, according to Trump and his allies, Ukrainian officials had been unaware that Trump had suspended military aid to that country.

But just hours after Trump’s tweet, the New York Times published a report dismantling that very claim:

But 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.

[…]

The timing of the communications about the issue, which have not previously been reported, shows that Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than United States and Ukrainian officials had acknowledged. And it means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations being sought by Mr. Trump.

The report comes on the heels of testimony by Bill Taylor, the top-ranking US diplomat in Ukraine, in which he said he had been told by a Trump administration official that military aid for Ukraine was indeed contingent on an announcement that Ukrainian officials would launch the investigations Trump demanded.

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

MOTHER JONES NEEDS YOUR HELP

Straight to the point: Donations have been concerningly slow for our hugely important First $500,000 fundraising campaign. We urgently need your help, and a lot of help, over the next few weeks so we can pay for the one-of-a-kind journalism you get from us.

Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” where we lay out this wild moment and how we can keep charging hard for you. And please help if you can: $5, $50, or $500—every gift from every person truly matters right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate