During the course of the day on Monday, Donald Trump semi-coherently appeared to admit to the television cameras that he did cut off financial aid to Ukraine unless it was willing to help promote a phony scandal about Joe Biden, then later tried to walk it back. It’s clear that Trump doesn’t know what to say at this point, as there’s no right way to handle something like this. Now it may not matter, because some of Trump’s own people just sold him out.
Very late on Monday night, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump did in fact officially cut off aid to Ukraine the week before he called the president of Ukraine and asked him to go after Biden. This means that it’s irrelevant whether Trump specifically brought up the money during the phone call, because he had already cut off the money, and Ukraine knew that it wasn’t going to get the money back unless it played along with Trump’s scheme.
What may be most important here is where this WaPo story came from. It states that Trump instructed Mick Mulvaney to cut off the money. While Mulvaney has recently been serving as Trump’s Acting White House Chief of Staff, he’s also long served as the head of Office of Management and Budget. So it’s notable that the WaPo’s sources appear to be from within the Office of Management and Budget; Mulvaney’s own loyalists appear to be trying to preemptively get it out there that Mulvaney (allegedly) had no choice but to go along with the order.
In any case, Donald Trump is flat out busted. If you take someone’s loved one hostage, and then a week later you call up and start making demands, it’s understood that this is a ransom demand, whether or not you specifically mention during the phone call that the demands must be met for the hostage to be released.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report