A Republican senator inquired in August about the possibility that Donald Trump was engaged in an effort to tie military aid to Ukraine to investigations into the 2016 election.
According to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Ron Johnson spoke to Trump more than a month ago about the suspected quid pro quo.
Johnson learned about the situation from ambassador Gordon Sondland who, according to the Journal, “told him that aid to Ukraine was tied to the desire by Mr. Trump and his allies to have Kyiv undertake investigations related to the 2016 US presidential election”.
That’s interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when Bill Taylor, America’s top diplomat in Ukraine, told Sondland in a text that “I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign”, Sondland responded that “the President has been crystal clear no quid pro quo’s”.
That was on September 9.
Just nine days previous, on August 31, Sen. Johnson asked Trump on a phone call if that was, in fact, the arrangement. Trump denied it, of course.
“He said – expletive deleted – ‘No way. I would never do that. Who told you that?'”, the Wisconsin senator told the Journal.
Again, it was Sondland who “told him that”, which is a real problem. Because it would appear to directly contradict what Sondland told Taylor less than two weeks later after the chargÃ© d’affaires expressed extreme misgivings about linking congressionally-approved foreign aid to political investigations.
If you’re wondering whether Sondland is a guy you can trust, Trump thinks the answer is yes. After all, he called Gordon a “highly respected” man on Friday morning.