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White House

Trump’s Interest in Ukraine

U.S. President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, November 2, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Byron York asks, “What if Trump was right about Ukraine?” The gist of it is that while there is no reason to credit Trump’s specific concerns about a Ukrainian Crowdstrike server, Ukrainian government officials and elites did get involved in our 2016 presidential election. The article provides some helpful background about impeachment, and corrects misstatements that Democrats and some journalists have spread. The idea that Ukraine tilted toward Hillary Clinton is not a conspiracy theory, and it ought to be possible, just as York writes, to register that fact while also noting that Russia was more extensively involved in our election.

But this doesn’t go very far as a defense of Trump’s conduct. A Ukrainian interior minister’s calling Trump a “clown” and criticizing Paul Manafort during the campaign—point one in York’s list of five items—doesn’t really compare to the Russian promotion of false reports in the U.S. Neither does an op-ed by Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. expressing concern about candidate Trump’s comments on Crimea, York’s second point. (What else would we expect a Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. to do?) Very little of this justifies any investigation into corruption at all; none of it comes close to even suggesting that Ukraine rather than Russia was behind the hacking of American emails, the theory to which Trump alluded.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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