Ohio Democratic Party Statement on Sen. Rob Portman Changing Tune on Ukraine

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Democratic Party released the following statement from Chairman David Pepper in response to Sen. Rob Portman — whom Donald Trump name-dropped as backing him up on Ukraine — today changing his tune:

“Rob Portman is finally speaking up after allowing Donald Trump’s smear against Joe Biden and his family to go on for weeks or longer. Last week reporters exposed a letter that Portman and his fellow senators signed back in 2016. Today Portman admits that the letter actually backed up Biden’s account. As co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Rob Portman would have had a front row seat to months of public reports and private updates about the Trump administration’s chaotic diplomacy with Ukrainian officials. It’s time for total transparency. What else does Portman know that might shed light on this fiasco?

“In 1998, Rob Portman stated ‘the truth must be the bedrock of our judicial system’ when he backed impeachment for Bill Clinton. The idea that he’s already made up his mind that Donald Trump’s conduct — shaking down foreign leaders to do his political bidding — does not rise to the level of impeachment is ludicrous. Rob must know that perhaps the Founders’ greatest concern was foreign interference in America’s democracy.”

UPDATED TIMELINE:

January 2019 — Giuliani meets with the Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko. (Giuliani admitted to the meeting in a July 2019 story for the New Yorker and told the New York Times that he called Trump during their first meeting.)

Jan. 15, 2019 — Portman tweets that he met with Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador to Ukraine, to discuss “the latest developments in #Ukraine.”

Jan. 15, 2019 — Portman votes to let the Trump administration ease sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. One day earlier he had told CNN he would “be more on that side” of supporting sanctions.

Jan. 30, 2019 — Portman endorses Trump, saying he gets “a lot done … with him.”

March 20, 2019 — The Hill publishes a dubious story sourced to Lutsenko that gets bounced around the right-wing media echo chamber and conservative Twitter (including Donald Trump Jr.).

April 21, 2019 — Zelensky is elected as Ukraine’s next president.

April 29, 2019 — The whistleblower learns that Yovanovitch was being “suddenly recalled” — and Giuliani tells Ukrainian media that it’s because of her “efforts against the president.”

May 6, 2019 — The State Department announces that Yovanovitch is leaving her post early. Democratic lawmakers call her removal a “political hit job.”

May 9, 2019 — Giuliani admits to the New York Times that he is “meddling in an investigation” in Ukraine.

May 31, 2019 — Portman tweets that he met with Zelensky and “encouraged them to continue [their] anti-corruption efforts.”

June 5, 2019 — Portman delivers a floor speech about his trip to Ukraine.

“I told President Zelensky that he is now the face of reform in Ukraine and indeed for those of us watching around the world. He acknowledged that with a smile and said, ‘I know.’ He said that his commitment to reform is real, but he also had no illusions about how hard reform will be, and I am very hopeful he will have the continued courage to see it through, whether we are talking about fighting corruption, more transparency in government or civilian control of the military. He understands it is the only path forward and frankly a linchpin of the U.S. partnership with Ukraine, and as a matter of law, a condition of our future defense assistance.”

June 19, 2019 — Portman questions the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

July 25, 2019 — Trump has his infamous call with Zelensky.

Sept. 1, 2019 — Vice President Mike Pence meets with Zelensky in Poland. The next day Pence is asked if the Trump administration is holding up funding because of efforts to “dig up dirt on the Biden family.” Pence responds that “Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.”

Sept. 3, 2019 — The Senate Ukraine Caucus sends a letter to Mick Mulvaney at the Office of Management and Budget calling on the OMB to direct the Pentagon to release the funds.

Sept. 5, 2019 — The Washington Post pens an editorial making crystal clear that Trump “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.”

Sept. 11, 2019 —  Portman calls Trump to ask him to release the funds.

Sept. 12, 2019 — Trump releases the funding.

Sept. 24, 2019 — Portman goes on Fox Business and Fox News to defend Trump, repeating Trump’s talking points that he sees no quid pro quo.

Sept. 25, 2019 — Portman tells a reporter for Spectrum News 1 that he doesn’t believe Trump’s behavior crossed a line.

Sept. 26, 2019 — Portman tells CNN he had been “been ‘running around’ all day” and had not read the complaint and refused to comment.

Oct. 2, 2019 — Trump says, “Rob Portman backed me up … I gave the money because Rob Portman and others called me and asked.”

Oct. 7, 2019 — Portman says, “The president should not have raised the Biden issue on that call, period. It’s not appropriate for a president to engage a foreign government in an investigation of a political opponent.”

 

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