Behind closed doors, President Donald Trump has made his views on Ukraine clear: “They tried to take me down.” REUTERS
The U.S. president, according to people familiar with testimony in the House impeachment investigation, sees the Eastern European ally, not Russia, as responsible for the interference in the 2016 election that was investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.
It’s a view denied by the intelligence community, at odds with U.S. foreign policy and dismissed by many of Trump’s fellow Republicans but part of a broader skepticism of Ukraine being shared with Trump by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his key regional ally Viktor Orban of Hungary, according to the New York Times citing Associated Press.
Trump’s embrace of an alternative view of Ukraine suggests the extent to which his approach to Kyiv was colored by a long-running, unproven conspiracy theory that has circulated online and in some corners of conservative media.
On Monday, Trump derided the impeachment probe anew as a “witch hunt,” insisting that he did nothing wrong in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Read also NBC News: Sondland asked Ukrainian officials during private White House talk about gas firm linked to Hunter Biden But those testifying in the impeachment inquiry, now entering its fifth week, are recalling that Trump’s views on Ukraine were seen as a problem by some in the administration.
Some of those testifying recalled a May meeting at the White House when U.S. officials, just back from attending Zelenskiy’s inauguration in Kyiv, briefed Trump. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, special envoy Kurt Volker and other witnesses have described Trump as suspicious of Ukraine despite well-established American support for the fledgling democracy there. Several witnesses have testified that Trump believed Ukraine wanted to destroy his presidency.