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Trump Says Interest with Ukraine Was to Fight Corruption, But Administration Sought to Cut Funds for That

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Trump Says Interest with Ukraine Was to Fight Corruption, But Administration Sought to Cut Funds for That

2019-10-23 22:10:00

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Screenshot)



Donald Trump has cornered himself with his lies. He tells so many, it would be hard to keep up with them. Since the whistleblower's complaint has been made public, he's been saying his interest in Ukraine was to fight corruption. But in truth, his administration sought to cut funding to fight corruption in other countries. 

Both the whistleblower complaint and the transcript of Trump's phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky showed that Trump asked for Ukraine to conduct investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter as well as the 2016 hacking of Democratic National Committee emails, as a conspiracy theory claims Ukraine was responsible.


However, Trump has been pushing the excuse that he had a "perfect" call with Zelensky and that what he was discussing with him was fighting corruption in Ukraine. 

However, the Trump administration repeatedly sought to cut foreign aid programs that would fight corruption in Ukraine and other foreign countries.


"I don't care about politics, but I do care about corruption. And this whole thing is about corruption," Trump said earlier this month when discussing the Ukraine scandal. "This whole thing — this whole thing is about corruption." 

In the whistleblower's complaint and the phone transcript, Trump appears to be holding back on military aid for Ukraine as well as a White House visit in exchange for the investigations. Current and former officials and diplomats have backed that up as well.


However, both Trump and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, as well as other officials, have repeatedly declared that the military aid package was delayed to ensure that Ukraine was addressing corruption and that it had nothing to do with benefiting Trump politically. 

"There were two reasons that we held up the aid. We talked about this at some length. The first one was the rampant corruption in Ukraine,"explained Mulvaney this weekend.


"Corruption is a big deal, everyone knows it," he added. Another reason, according to Mulvaney, was to be sure other countries were contributing to Ukraine's defense. 

However, the administration wanted to cut the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement program. One of its goals is "helping U.S. partners address threats to U.S. interests by building resilience and promoting reform in the justice and law enforcement sectors through support to new institutions and specialized offices, such as Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption bureau and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office."


In 2019 $30 million was sent to Ukraine from that program after Congress rejected the administration's request to cut the amount down to $13 million. 

In the 2020 budget request the administration again tried to cut the amount for Ukraine down to $13 million. It seems if the administration is so concerned about corruption in Ukraine that Trump had to speak by phone with Zelensky about it, that they wouldn't be trying simultaneously cut that program by more than half.


Additionally, the administration tried to group multiple foreign democracy assistance and foreign aid accounts together and call it the Economic Support and Development Fund. It was believed that would cut more than $2 billion from the countries. 

That fund, too, was also focused on combatting corruption in foreign countries as well as other goals. Spending for Ukraine in 2018 was $250 million, but the White House asked for only $145 million in 2020.


This has led the Democrats to allege that the recent comments about wanting to fight corruption in Ukraine don't coincide with the effort to cut the programs. 

"Numbers don't lie," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a statement.


"It's even more clear now that President Trump is not the anti-corruption crusader he claims to be. The House impeachment inquiry must continue unimpeded so all the facts can come out." 

"The president has consistently sought across-the-board cuts to foreign aid and has proposed more cuts in his budgets than any other president in history," said Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Rachel Semmel.


"He has also strongly encouraged other countries to contribute their own efforts and resources to their defense and reform efforts." 

"This is about corruption, and this is not about politics," Trump has said. "This is about corruption. And if you look and you read our Constitution and many other things, we — I have an obligation to look at corruption. I have an actual obligation and a duty."

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