It’s not just the military aid

Even uglier.

The White House’s trade representative in late August withdrew a recommendation to restore some of Ukraine’s trade privileges after John Bolton, then-national security adviser, warned him that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kyiv, according to people briefed on the matter.

The warning to Robert E. Lighthizer came as Trump was withholding $391 million in military aid and security assistance from Ukraine. House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into allegations that the president did so to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the business activities of former vice president Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. As part of the inquiry, lawmakers are closely scrutinizing the White House’s actions between July and September.

The August exchange between Bolton and Lighthizer over the trade matter represents the first indication that the administration’s suspension of assistance to Ukraine extended beyond the congressionally authorized military aid and security assistance to other government programs. It is not clear whether Trump directed Bolton to intervene over Ukraine’s trade privileges or was even aware of the discussion.

Except why would Bolton on his own want to do that? So yeah it is clear, but newspapers have to be cautious. The rest of us however can draw our own conclusions. Trump was bullying Ukraine in every way he could think of, because he wanted Ukraine to help him throw mud at Joe Biden. How we’ll all laugh when it turns out Biden isn’t the nominee anyway.

Bolton’s intervention came as the president was telling White House aides that any assistance for Ukraine depended upon Zelensky publicly stating that his government would investigate Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, according to congressional testimony this week by acting U.S. ambassador William B. Taylor Jr.

“The president doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all,” Taylor said Tim Morrison, the National Security Council’s top Russia official, told him Aug. 22.

Of course not. “Squeeze them hard. Squeeze until they scream and give in.”

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