Trump: “Rob Portman Backed Me Up” On Ukraine

Seriously Though, What Did Portman Know And When Did He Know It?

COLUMBUSLast week Sen. Rob Portman, the co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, played dumb when asked about the whistleblower’s explosive allegations about Donald Trump trying to shake down the Ukrainian president for a personal favor — but today Trump told the world how Portman “backed me up” on his decision-making on Ukraine.

“It’s obvious from the timeline of events and the president’s statement today that Rob Portman was intimately involved in the conversations between Donald Trump, U.S. officials and Ukrainian officials as Trump withheld vital funding from that nation and asked them to help with his own personal agenda,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “It’s time for full transparency from Rob Portman — what did he know about the growing Ukraine scandal and when did he know it?”

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.”

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