Trump to Ukraine: No Aid Unless You Smear Joe Biden

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Unfortunately, Fred Hiatt is right: this is astonishing.

We already knew that Donald Trump had directed Rudy Giuliani to press the Ukrainian president to open an investigation of Joe Biden’s son in an effort to hurt Biden. But apparently he’s doing more than just pressing:

Mr. Zelensky has so far failed to win the backing of President Trump. Not only has Mr. Trump refused to grant the Ukrainian leader a White House visit, but also he has suspended the delivery of $250 million in U.S. military aid to a country still fighting Russian aggression in its eastern provinces.

Some suspect Mr. Trump is once again catering to Mr. Putin, who is dedicated to undermining Ukrainian democracy and independence. But we’re reliably told that the president has a second and more venal agenda: He is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine’s help with his presidential campaign; he is using U.S. military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.

This week’s obsession with Sharpiegate was all good fun, but today we learned that Trump, as usual, is taking it very, very seriously indeed: he strong-armed NOAA into issuing a late-Friday press release saying, wrongly, that Alabama had been in danger from Hurricane Dorian all along. In the great scheme of things, this doesn’t matter much except as yet another example of how Trump works. On a much bigger, more corrupt scale it’s the same thing that’s happening with Ukraine.

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