Jesse Byrnes reported that “President Trump on Thursday night defended his push for foreign governments to investigate allegations of corruption, asserting he has an “absolute right” to call for such help from a foreign power amid blowback over his push for probes into former Vice President Joe Biden.” Trump claims he does not care about politics and that it is all about him fighting corruption. However, “a stack of text messages released by the House of Representatives on Thursday night shows that Trump” is not being truthful, William Saletan writes for Slate:
The messages, exchanged this summer between State Department officials and Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, document a quid pro quo: The administration offered a meeting between Trump and Zelensky in exchange for a Ukrainian statement that Biden would be investigated. The texts also show that Trump and his aides weren’t interested in cleaning up corruption. Corruption has become a Republican code word for smearing Trump’s opponents.
The texts indicate that Trump’s negotiators demanded explicit concessions from Ukraine in exchange for the meeting and a restoration of military aid. In an Aug. 9 message, Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, told Kurt Volker, who was then a special envoy to Ukraine, “I think potus really wants the deliverable.” In a Sept. 1 message, William Taylor, the U.S. chargé d’affaires in Ukraine, asked Sondland, “Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” Sondland replied with the classic line of someone who doesn’t want a paper trail: “Call me.”
Sondland, like Trump, tried to pretend that what Trump sought in the quid pro quo wasn’t just an investigation of Biden and the Democrats, but a broader Ukrainian effort to stamp out corruption. In a Sept. 19 text, Taylor told Sondland it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.” Sondland, in a pious response, denied that Trump was targeting his opponents. What Trump wanted, according to Sondland’s formulation, was a statement from Zelensky proving that Ukraine was serious about “transparency and reforms.”
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