Portman Says He Doesn’t Know Why Trump “Would Turn To” Giuliani On Ukraine

Rudy Has Been Bragging to Media About His Ukrainian Efforts For Months

COLUMBUS — Donald Trump told the world that Rob Portman “backed me up” on his Ukraine cover story, but now Portman is claiming he doesn’t know why Trump “would turn to” Rudy Giuliani on Ukrainian issues, months after Giuliani told the New York Times he was pushing officials there to help Trump politically.

“Rob Portman’s story on Donald Trump’s Ukraine scandal keeps changing, but it always requires the listener to believe that Portman doesn’t read newspapers or follow major news related to Ukraine — which might be plausible if he weren’t co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a self-professed ‘big Ukraine fan,’” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “In his caucus leadership role, Portman would have closely tracked developments about Ukraine, as Rudy Giuliani bragged about his exploits to national media outlets and on Fox News, as the well-regarded ambassador was recalled with no notice and as Portman discussed Ukrainian affairs with officials throughout the administration. Yesterday Mick Mulvaney admitted there was a quid pro quo with Ukraine and told critics to ‘get over it.’ Rob Portman playing dumb after everything that has been revealed over the past few weeks — and everything Trump and his lackeys have confessed to — just isn’t credible.”

Another Ohio Republican, former Gov. John Kasich, today said he believed Trump should be impeached, in light of Mulvaney’s admission yesterday. Like Portman, Kasich voted in favor of impeachment in 1999.

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.”

Oct. 17, 2019 — Mulvaney admits there was a quid pro quo regarding military aid to Ukraine.

Oct. 17, 2019 — Portman says, “I don’t know why the president would turn to [Giuliani]. I’ve never talked to Giuliani about anything to do with the Ukraine.”

Oct. 18, 2019 — Kasich comes out in favor of impeachment.

 

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