While it may appear that Donald Trump’s Ukrainian extortion scheme came out of nowhere, Rachel Maddow explained on Monday that the president has been pressuring the foreign power for favors since at least last year.
According to the MSNBC host, whenever Ukraine is in need of critical military equipment to defend themselves from Russia, Trump demands they give him something in return.
These favors Trump asks of Ukraine don’t advance any specific U.S. interests. Instead, they are always demands that will boost Trump’s political fortunes at home.
Maddow pointed out that last year when Ukraine was in need of missiles, Trump hinted that he would be happy to oblige if the Ukrainians did a favor for him related to Robert Mueller’s investigation into his 2016 campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
This year, as has widely been reported, Trump was withholding similar military aid for Ukraine in return for damaging information about former vice president Joe Biden.
“Last year [Ukraine was] under the same impression that they had to trade some kind of favor in order to get those javelins (missiles), and it was a favor related to the investigations of Paul Manafort,” Maddow noted. “This year to get your javelins, well, the president wants a favor.”
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) October 1, 2019
Ukraine is once again trying to get more of those javelin missiles. And in the phone call that is leading to President Trump’s impeachment – in the phone call that took place in late July between President Trump and Ukraine’s new president – according to the notes of that call released by the White House this past week, there’s this remarkable moment where the Ukrainian president asks specifically about those missiles. President Zelensky: ‘We are ready to continue cooperate for the next steps. Specifically we are almost ready to buy more javelins from the United States for defense purposes. President Trump immediately responds with, ‘I would like you to do us a favor, though.’ ‘You want the javelins? Well, I’m in need of a favor.’ Last year they were under the same impression that they had to trade some kind of favor in order to get those javelins, and it was a favor related to the investigations of Paul Manafort. This year to get your javelins, well the president wants a favor.
Extortion appears to be the centerpiece of Trump’s foreign policy
For an administration that lacks direction and clarity in just about every area of governance, it’s becoming increasingly clear that extortion is a staple of their foreign policy.
As House Democrats continue to ramp up their impeachment inquiry and uncover more documents – including other conversations with foreign leaders – it is likely that we will only see more attempts by the president of the United States to extort foreign powers for political gain.
None of this should be surprising, of course; Trump has spent a lifetime enriching himself at the expense of others. That behavior has only metastasized on a global scale now that he’s president of the United States.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.