On Sunday, a reporter asked Donald Trump to explain his administration delaying military aid to Ukraine in July. “I didn’t delay anything,” the president replied.
A day later, the Republican’s story changed a bit. Trump told reporters, “We want to make sure that country is honest. It’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?”
Today, about 48 hours after saying he “didn’t delay anything,” the American president said he did delay aid to Ukraine – not specifically because of corruption concerns, but because of his interest in spreading international financial burdens.
“As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid,” Trump said. “They were fully paid. But my complaint has always been – and I’d withhold again, and I’ll continue to withhold until such time as Europe and other nations contribute to Ukraine, because they’re not doing it.”
“Very important, I want other countries to put up money,” he added. “I think it’s unfair that we put up the money. Then other people call me. They said, ‘Oh, let it go.’ And I let it go. But we paid the money, the money was paid.”
He said he wants Germany, France and other nations to contribute more funds. “And that’s been my complaint from the beginning,” he said.
So to recap, Trump said he didn’t delay the aid to the country whose help he sought for his re-election campaign. Then he changed gears, expressing concern about Ukrainian corruption. Then the president changed gears again, wondering why other countries weren’t providing more assistance to the country he suspects of corruption.
Who knows, by tomorrow there may be an entirely different line.
I mentioned this for a couple of reasons. First, if the underlying truth – some of which we don’t know because the administration is hiding so many key details – is completely benign and uncontroversial, Trump probably wouldn’t be changing his story quite so frequently.
And second, there are a lot of White House allies going out on limbs to defend Trump, who suddenly don’t know what to say because the president keeps changing his arguments.