Portman Was Deeply Involved in the Ukraine Conversation
What Did He Know … And When Did He Know It?
COLUMBUS — The co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus said he was “running around” and couldn’t find time last week to read the whistleblower’s nine-page memo about Donald Trump’s conduct with Ukraine — but a review of Rob Portman’s statements and actions over the past year raise questions about how much he already knew about the complaint’s allegations of corruption.
“Most of the members of the House and Senate appear to be confronting these facts for the first time,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper. “Rob Portman, on the other hand, didn’t only have a front row seat — it appears that he was directly engaged with all sides of what was a deeply problematic conversation as that conversation occurred. Portman owes Ohioans and all Americans a full and transparent account of what he knew, when he knew it and what steps he took once it became clear what Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were up to.”
When Sen. Chris Murphy met with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in early September — as Portman did in May — he told Zelensky “he should not take orders from Trump’s campaign and that his credibility would be greatly compromised if he interfered in the 2020 election.”
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.
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. 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. 25, 2019 — Portman tells a reporter for Spectrum News 1 that he doesn’t believe Trump’s behavior crossed a line.