Trump’s comments on Ukrainian aid make matters worse

Updated

Just this morning, I wrote an item about Donald Trump too often making comments that undermine his own best interests, effectively admitting wrongdoing when he doesn’t have to. Little did I know he’d soon after do it again.

President Donald Trump on Monday defended his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, calling it a “perfect” discussion, while suggesting he had tied vital military funding for Ukraine to that country’s handling of corruption – which he has alleged Vice President Joe Biden’s family was engaged in there.

“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?” Trump told reporters when asked what he had spoken about with Ukraine’s new president in a July phone call.

“It’s very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption,” he said, moments after telling reporters: “let me just tell you – let me just tell you. What Biden did was wrong.”

Putting aside the fact there’s no evidence whatsoever of Biden having done anything wrong, and the fact that the president has an unfortunate record of making all kinds of false allegations against his perceived political foes, this was the first time the public has heard Trump make a connection between his call with the Ukrainian president, U.S. financial/military aid, and Trump’s electoral scheme.

The original Republican line was that nothing happened. The second line was that Trump may, in fact, have talked to a foreign government about intervening in an American election. And the brand new line is that Trump, while talking to a foreign government about intervening in an American election, referenced the $250 million the United States committed to Ukraine.

Or to put this in broader strokes, we’re witnessing the transition from “the accusation isn’t true” to “the accusation is true, but there’s nothing actually wrong with misdeed in question.”

Around the time the president was moving the ball forward, one of his personal attorneys, Rudy Giuliani, sat down with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo and said he couldn’t be entirely sure Trump didn’t threaten to cut off aid to Ukraine unless Zelensky went along with the Republican’s scheme.

BARTIROMO: Did the president threaten to cut off aid to the Ukraine?

GIULIANI: No, no, that was a false story.

BARTIROMO: One hundred percent?

GIULIANI: Well, I can’t tell you if it’s 100 percent.

Why Team Trump allows Giuliani to appear on television is a bit of a mystery to me.