The Corner


What Did the Ukrainians Know, and When Did They Know It?

How you read the transcript of the Trump-Zelensky call depends, in part, on what you believe was going on outside the four corners of the call. That makes it interesting that at the time of the call, the Ukrainians actually didn’t know that the aid was being withheld:

The call was on July 25. If Vogel is right, the Ukrainians didn’t know about the aid being withheld until late August, and the aid was released on September 11. That would mean the window when the Ukrainians knew the aid was being withheld prior to its release was only about two weeks.

We should take what the Ukrainians say with a big grain of salt, but this report from Time magazine is interesting:

When President Donald Trump asked his counterpart in Ukraine to help investigate Trump’s political opponents, the Ukrainian President and his team did not see the request as linked to the release of U.S. military aid, a senior Ukrainian official tells TIME on Wednesday. . . .

Zelensky and his advisers believed that the White House may have frozen the aid package to Ukraine because of the proposed sale of Motor Sich, a Ukrainian factory that produces engines for missiles and jets, to a Chinese company. The U.S. has objected to that sale on national security grounds, and Trump’s then-National Security Adviser John Bolton urged Zelensky and his government to stop the sale during a visit to Kiev in August. “At the time China was more acute,” as an issue in U.S.-Ukrainian relations, than was the question of investigating Biden, says the official.

Let’s wait to learn more, obviously.

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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