At the center of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump is his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who Trump is accused of pressuring to investigate his political rival, using foreign aid as leverage.
Zelensky broke his silence on Trump in an interview with TIME, claiming that there was no quid pro quo with the United States president. Although Zelensky admitted that military aid from the U.S. was “very important” in the context of Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia, he claims that quid pro quo wasn’t his “thing,” adding that he didn’t want to portray Ukraine as “beggars,” Newsweek reports.
“If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo.”
Zelensky also addressed Trump’s recent comment about Ukrainian corruption and was pressed on whether he planned to try and change the U.S. president’s mind. According to the 41-year-old politician and comedian, he doesn’t feel like there is any convincing he needs to do.
“During my meeting with him, I said that I don’t want our country to have this image. For that, all he has to do is come and have a look at what’s happening, how we live, what kinds of people we are. I had the sense that he heard me. I had that sense. At least during the meeting, he said, ‘Yes, I see, you’re young, you’re new, and so on.'”
Rep. Adam Schiff: "The day after Bob Mueller testified… Donald Trump is back on the phone asking yet another foreign leader, Zelensky, for yet more foreign help in another election." pic.twitter.com/3FfsWaid1A
— The Hill (@thehill) November 26, 2019
In his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said during his opening statement that there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Zelensky. Sondland was reportedly part of the alleged pressure campaign on Ukraine — purportedly seeking to secure investigations into Trump’s Democratic foe, Joe Biden, and his son Hunter — and was allegedly acting under Trump’s orders when doing so.
Despite Sondland’s initial claim that there was a quid pro quo between Trump and Zelensky, Newsweek reports that later during the same testimony, Sondland revealed that Trump told him in a September 7 conversation that he didn’t want a quid pro quo — a revelation that Trump later said he believes ended the probe. Per Just Security, Trump still outlined preconditions for Ukraine during the same September call.
In response to the impeachment inquiry, Trump and his camp have shifted focus onto a controversial theory, one claiming that Ukraine — not Russia — interfered in the 2016 presidential election, contradicting Robert Mueller’s report into the matter. As The Inquisitr reported, Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik recently criticized right-wing media outlets for helping Trump spread such theories, claiming that they help Russia.