President Donald Trump admitted Monday that he delayed aid to Ukraine ahead of a call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, when he pushed the leader to look into potential rival Joe Biden and his son’s work, giving the excuse that he was waiting for European nations to contribute their fair share of aid and claiming there was “never any quid pro quo.”
“As far as withholding funds, those funds were paid. 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,” Trump said Tuesday as he arrived at the United Nations ahead of his speech to the General Assembly.
Trump remained defiant Tuesday that he’s done nothing wrong and has no regrets about his behavior when it comes to Ukraine and seeking an investigation into Biden’s son’s dealings.
On Monday, The Washington Post first reported that the President had directed his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to freeze nearly $400 million of US military and security aid to Ukraine in the days before he spoke with Zelensky.
There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe or Hunter Biden.
Later Tuesday, when pressed again on why he blocked aid to Ukraine ahead of the call, Trump emphasized that other countries should contribute and noted that the aid was ultimately paid.
“Nobody has given, I believe, more to Ukraine … We think it is very important. And by the way, I don’t know if you know it or not but that payment was made,” Trump said during a bilateral meeting with embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“But I wanted to get other countries – other countries should also pay because, frankly, it affects them more,” the President added.
Trump said he took these concerns to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Other countries should contribute, Trump said, which he claimed led to the delay in Ukraine aid.
“So I said hold it up. Let’s get other people to pay. And then everybody called me, ‘Oh please, can we pay?’ And there was never any quid pro quo,” he said.
Asked his reaction to the growing momentum toward impeachment, Trump again borrowed a phrase from his characterization of the Mueller investigation: “Witch hunt.”
“I think it’s ridiculous, it’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me, the only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before,” Trump claimed.
He was again unclear on whether a transcript of the call would be released – and when.
“It’s nonsense and when you see the call, when you see the readout of the call, which I assume you’ll see at some point, you’ll understand. That call was perfect, it couldn’t have been nicer,” Trump said.
A readout was released shortly after the call took place.
He also again went after Biden without offering specifics or evidence.
“Even the Ukrainian government put out a statement that that was a perfect call, there was no pressure put on them whatsoever. But there was pressure put on with respect to Joe Biden. What Joe Biden did for his son, that’s something they should be looking at,” Trump said.