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Shapiro: Democrats’ ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Claim Against Trump Is Weak; Here’s Why
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: U.S. President Donald Trump exits a press conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019 in New York City. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that the House will launch a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Democrats are pushing forward an impeachment inquiry into President Trump over his much-analyzed July 25 call with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky, which Democrats characterize as Trump “pressuring” Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden in part by offering the president a quid pro quo in the form of withheld aid to the country if he fails to act — a charge Trump’s camp adamantly denies.

So what evidence do Democrats have that Trump actually offered a “quid pro quo” to his Ukrainian counterpart for dirt on his political rival? In a series of tweets Thursday, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro looked at the evidence and found the charge of Trump’s “aid-based quid pro quo” to be “pretty weak tea.”

“There are some serious questions about the ‘quid pro quo’ story,” Shapiro wrote in a thread Thursday (tweets below). “And those questions come from both the whistleblower report and the NYT reporting AND the blown ABC story today. Let’s begin with the whistleblower report.”

Shapiro then provides the following excerpt from the whistleblower’s complaint:

On 18 July, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official informed Departments and Agencies that the President “earlier that month” had issued instructions to suspend all U.S. security assistance to Ukraine. Neither OMB nor the NSC staff knew why this instruction had been issued. During interagency meetings on 23 July and 26 July, OMB officials again stated explicitly that the instruction to suspend this assistance had come directly from the President, but they still were unaware of a policy rationale. As of early August, I heard from U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned it.

“Notice, the WHISTLEBLOWER is stating that Ukraine may not have been aware that military aid was threatened at the time of the infamous phone call (they learned in early August, apparently),” Shapiro writes. “So how can there be a quid pro quo when the target DOESN’T KNOW HE’S BEING THREATENED?”

Shapiro then points to a report published by The New York Times earlier this week. “A Ukrainian official said that Mr. Zelensky’s government did not learn of the delay until about one month after the call,” the Times reported.

“This confirms the whistleblower report,” Shapiro states. “Again, if the Ukrainians didn’t know that Trump was threatening aid, with what, precisely was he threatening them? More importantly, why haven’t the media been focusing on this angle? (I think we know the answer.)”

“Finally, the blown ABC report,” he continues. “They claimed that a Ukrainian adviser to Zelenskyy had said that Zelenskyy was aware that Trump wanted Biden or bust. But then the advisor completely walked that back and said he was essentially repeating media rumors.” As The Daily Wire reported Thursday (formatting adjusted):

Serhiy Leshchenko, whom [ABC initially] described as a current advisor to President Zelenskiy, told the outlet, “Ukrainian officials were asking for a meeting with Trump for along time. As I remember, it was a clear fact that Trump wants to meet only if Biden case will be included. This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.” The ABC report added: “Asked if it had been understood as a condition, Leshchenko said, ‘Yes.'”

However, after the report permeated the news cycle, it was revealed that ABC’s source is no longer an advisor to Zelenskiy, nor was he during the July 25 call. 

“Setting record straight: [Leshchenko] confirmed to me what those of us in Kyiv already knew — he is NOT currently an advisor to Ukraine’s Zelenskiy & wasn’t at time of July 25 call,” said Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent Christopher Miller, who specifically covers Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. Miller also said that Leshchenko “said he DID NOT tell ABC insistence for leaders to discuss Biden probe was precondition for call.”

“So, here’s what we’re left with: speculation about an aid-based quid pro quo in a transcript — speculation openly rebutted by the whistleblower report, an NYT source, and this Ukrainian advisor to Zelenskyy,” Shapiro concludes. “That’s pretty weak tea.”

Shapiro’s tweets below:

Related: Trump Brings Up Pence In Ukraine Comments, Now Critics Declaring Pence Will Be Impeached Too

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