Doing Putin a solid

New in Trump:

Donald Trump ordered his staff to withhold nearly $400m in aid to Ukraine days before he repeatedly pressured the country’s president to investigate a political rival, it emerged on Monday night.

The revelation has further intensified demand among Democrats for the president to be impeached.

As news of Trump’s personal intervention broke, an influential group of seven Democrats, all first-term members of Congress with military or national security backgrounds, said that “if true”, the president’s actions regarding Ukraine, Joe Biden and the former vice-president’s son Hunter would “represent an impeachable offense”.

The Washington Post first reported Trump’s freezing of $391m in aid to Ukraine. Trump ordered acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, it said, to suspend the almost $400m payment “at least a week” before the 25 July call with Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which he reportedly asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate the Bidens – eight times, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So that’s how the call went. “Hi Volodymyr – wondering where that $400 million payment went? Yes? Ok here’s what I need you to do if you want to see the money.”

The US began providing military aid to Ukraine shortly after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014. With Ukraine’s new president still grappling with separatist rebels in the east, the aid has long been viewed as a measure of Washington’s determination to push back against Russian president Vladimir Putin.

So Trump doesn’t want to send the aid in the first place, and the kneecap-Biden motivation is just a luxurious extra.

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