Is This Trump’s First Quid Pro Quo with Ukraine?
We know from the whistle blower, the summary transcript of Trump’s call with Zelensky, and testimony from numerous State Department, Defense Department and NSC officials, that Trump tried to use US military aid to Ukraine to extort Zelensky into manufacturing dirt on the Bidens. This scandal involved Trump strong arming the Ukrainian President into opening an investigation. But had he already used Javelin sales to Ukraine to strong-arm the previous Ukrainian president into closing an investigation?
On March 1st, 2018, the US Statement Department announced it was going to sell 210 Javelin missiles and 37 launchers to Ukraine, in a deal worth $47 million. Republicans and Democrats had been calling for the sale of the anti-tank missiles and launchers to Ukraine since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. The Trump administration gave no explanation for the change in the previous policy of only providing Ukraine with small arms and training and support equipment.
On April 30, the State Department confirmed that Washington had delivered the Javelins to Ukraine.
On May 2nd, the New York Times reported that after securing the Javelins, Ukraine’s government had stopped cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Around the same time, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Yuri Lutsenko halted the investigation into payments made by Ukraine’s former President Vicktor Yanukovych to Paul Manafort.
Lutsenko also allowed Konstantin Kilimnik to leave Ukraine and flee to Russia. Mueller had charged Kilimnik, as part of the Manafort indictment, with obstruction of justice. Kilimnik being allowed to flee led Mueller to conclude that he “could not reliably determine Manafort’s purpose in sharing internal polling data with Kilimnik during the campaign period” as he couldn’t determine what happened to the polling data after it was sent to Kilimnik.
We now know that Trump has no qualms about using US military aid to extort things of value for himself. Therefore, it would seem very likely that the series of moves by Ukraine that benefited Trump, after they received the initial Javelins in 2018, were not a coincidence. If it looks like a quid pro quo, and talks like a quid pro quo, and has already confessed to a quid pro quo, it’s probably a quid pro quo.
There was a hint last week that the Democrats are already looking into this as part of the impeachment inquiry, and that it may have come up during some recent testimony. After stepping out of a closed-door deposition on Wednesday, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) told reporters: “If I were an enterprising reporter, I’d spend a little bit of time on the issue of Javelin missiles.”