President Trump appeared to confirm Tuesday that he delayed the transfer of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine for more than a week in advance of a scheduled July call with newly-elected president Volodymyr Zelentsky.
“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,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations General Assembly.
Trump was responding to a Monday Washington Post report that he ordered his chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to delay the aid until after his call with Zelensky.
During that call, Trump repeatedly urged Zelentsky to investigate possible corruption on the part of Joe Biden’s son Hunter, who had business interests in Ukraine while the former vice president was overseeing U.S. policy toward the country.
Trump ordered the aid withheld after Congress had already approved its release to the embattled country. Ukraine has in recent years seen fighting in its eastern regions between the military and Russian-backed separatists. The conflagration began in 2014 with the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an official with knowledge of the matter said the decision was made due to concerns about corruption in Ukraine, causing the administration to worry if the funds would be spent for their intended purpose.
Another concern was the perceived lack of support from other nations toward Ukraine.
Trump suggested Monday that he held up the aid package due to corruption concerns, but denied that he specifically pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden in return for the release of funds.
Later in the day Trump backtracked, saying “I did not make a statement that you have to do this or I won’t give you aid.” He then added, “I think it would probably, possibly have been okay if I did.”