Report Details How Putin Helped Malign Trump’s Views On Zelensky Months Before He Suspended Military Aid To Ukraine
In a meeting last week that was meant to focus on Syria, President Donald Trump allegedly made many disparaging remarks toward Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers, which forced them to leave the talks early.
Speaking with reporters after the event, and following the president posting an image of Pelosi from the meeting, the Speaker explained what she was feeling in the aforementioned picture, which features her as the only individual in the room standing up, pointing at Trump from across the table.
“At that moment, I was probably saying ‘All roads lead to Putin,'” Pelosi recounted, according to USA Today.
A new report on Monday evening details how close to reality Pelosi’s words really were, especially as it pertains to the impeachment inquiry her party is leading in the House of Representatives, with regards to details being uncovered pertaining to the Ukraine scandal.
According to the Washington Post, testimony given by George Kent (a former official within the State Department) in a closed-door session with House investigators, showcased how Trump had been on the phone several times with Russia President Vladimir Putin, discussing his views regarding Ukraine, just before Trump suspended military aid to that nation.
Trump faces an impeachment inquiry because a whistleblower’s complaints alleged he pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son, and to look into a conspiracy theory that posits a DNC email server exists in Ukraine somewhere. Neither the Biden allegations made by Trump, nor the server conspiracy theory, can be substantiated.
Trump also requested these investigations from Zelensky just days after ordering his administration to suspend military aid to Ukraine to help them defend against encroachments from Russia, which has led many to suggest he was seeking a quid pro quo — a notion his acting chief of staff seemed to confirm on Thursday, but later denied saying.
What was unknown before Monday evening, however, was that Trump was seeking guidance from Putin, as well as Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, about Zelensky and Ukraine, with neither of those two leaders giving Trump positive remarks regarding Zelensky’s leadership style.
There’s no evidence to suggest either shaped Trump’s opinions regarding the investigations he wanted launched in Ukraine, but Kent detailed that the leaders’ discussions reinforced Trump’s biases against Kyiv, which were being fed to him in part by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
Putin, for example, told Trump in a May phone call that “Ukraine is just a den of corruption,” Kent recounted in his testimony. That call occurred just days after Zelensky assumed office, after which Trump sought Putin’s opinion about the new leader.
Putin also derided Zelensky in a two-pronged way, calling him a comedian but also tying him to a controversial oligarch that Moscow doesn’t favor, Kent noted.
The relationship between Trump and Putin has been criticized in the past in a bipartisan way, with lawmakers from both parties either chastising the president or giving him strong warnings against cozying up to the Kremlin.