One of Trump’s Biggest Defenses in the Ukraine Scandal Falls Apart

Ron Sachs/ZUMA

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In a Wednesday morning tweet, Donald Trump pointed his supporters to a Fox News segment from the night before, during which Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) denied that the president’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democrats didn’t constitute a quid pro quo.

“You can’t have a quid pro quo with no quo,” Ratcliffe had insisted, a sound-bite friendly way of claiming that such a scenario was legally impossible because, according to Trump and his allies, Ukrainian officials had been unaware that Trump had suspended military aid to that country.

But just hours after Trump’s tweet, the New York Times published a report dismantling that very claim:

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

[…]

The timing of the communications about the issue, which have not previously been reported, shows that Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than United States and Ukrainian officials had acknowledged. And it means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations being sought by Mr. Trump.

The report comes on the heels of testimony by Bill Taylor, the top-ranking US diplomat in Ukraine, in which he said he had been told by a Trump administration official that military aid for Ukraine was indeed contingent on an announcement that Ukrainian officials would launch the investigations Trump demanded.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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