CLAIM: If President Donald Trump really cared about corruption in Ukraine, he would have raised it before. But he never did.
VERDICT: False. Trump raised it specifically — even lecturing the former Ukrainian president about it in 2017.
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) claimed on Tuesday in President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial that Trump did not care about corruption in Ukraine except when it allegedly involved his potential rival in the 2020 presidential election, former Vice President Joe Biden.
You might ask yourself: if the president was so concerned about corruption, why didn’t he did he do that [withhold aid] in 2017? Why didn’t he do that in 2018? Why was it only 2019, there was a problem? Was there no corruption in Ukraine in 2017? Was there no corruption in Ukraine in 2018? No — Ukraine has always battled corruption. It wasn’t the presence or lack of corruption from one year to another. It was the presence of Joe Biden as a potential candidate for president. That was the key change in 2019. That made all the difference.
In fact, President Trump did raise the issue of corruption in Ukraine in 2017, the first year of his administration. He did so prior to releasing the Javelin anti-tank missiles, the lethal aid that President Barack Obama had refused to provide.
As State Department official Catherine Croft testified in her closed-door deposition during Schiff’s impeachment inquiry at the House Intelligence Committee, Trump lectured then-President Poroshenko — to his face — about corruption in Ukraine:
Croft: The President was skeptical of providing weapons to Ukraine.
A: When this was discussed, including in front of the Ukrainian delegation, in fnont of President Poroshenko, he described his concerns being that Ukraine was corrupt, that it was capable of being a very rich country, and that the United States shouldn’t pay for it, but instead, we should be providing aid through loans.
Notably, Schiff did not call Croft to testify publicly, making sure as few people as possible heard what she had to say about Trump’s long-standing frustration with corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Schiff’s claim on the floor of the Senate — in pursuit of more State Department documents — was a baldfaced lie, and raises the question about why the Senate might need more evidence if the House has ignored what is already there.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.