NEW YORK — While Democrats see the face of Satan in Donald J. Trump’s 55-day pause in delivery of military aid to Ukraine, the President offers a far more innocent explanation: He wanted to assure that newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky honored his anti-corruption promises and that America’s allies paid their fair share to assist Kiev.
While plenty has been said about the former rationale for the suspended security assistance, a transcript released last week bolsters the latter reason for delaying this relief.
Mark Sandy, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy associate director for national security programs, was interrogated on November 16 in House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff’s (D – California) secret dungeon beneath the U.S. Capitol. Ranking Republican Devin Nunes, also of California, described Sandy to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday as “the top civil servant that controls the money” that reaches foreign-aid recipients like Ukraine.
Sandy was asked for “a reason why the President wanted to place a hold on security assistance?”
Sandy replied: “I recall in early September an email [from OMB official Mike Duffy] that attributed the hold to the President’s concern about other countries not contributing money to Ukraine.” Thus, both Sandy and Duffy cited foreign fair-share concerns for postponing relief to Kiev.
“The transcript for OMB’s Mark Sandy was just released,” Representative Lee Zeldin (R – New York) wrote via Twitter last Tuesday. “The ONLY reason he was ever given why there was a hold on $ to Ukraine was ‘the President’s concern about other countries not contributing more to Ukraine.’ NOT bribery. NOT quid pro quo or any other WACKY Schiff conspiracy!”
Zeldin later added via Twitter: “Mark Sandy is a dedicated, career public servant who came to Schiff’s Capitol basement bunker to answer under oath why there was a hold on US aid to Ukraine. He said the definitive answer from OMB was ENTIRELY about the President’s desire for other countries to contribute more.”
This justification for the aid pause echoes President Trump’s previous statements about his not wanting America to be the only nation to provide such assistance to Ukraine and other states.
“I don’t like being the sucker country,” Trump said on October 2. “We were the sucker country for years and years. We’re not the sucker country anymore.”
“But I gave the money because [Republican Senator from Ohio] Rob Portman and others called me and asked. But I don’t like to be the sucker. And European countries are helped far more than we are, and those countries should pay more to help Ukraine.”
Soon after entering office, President Trump offered Congress this budget message:
“We are going to do more with less, and make the Government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump pledged on March 15, 2017, some 2.5 years before Ukraine-o-rama erupted. “This includes deep cuts to foreign aid. It is time to prioritize the security and well-being of Americans, and to ask the rest of the world to step up and pay its fair share.”
Americans will keep debating whether any of this merits impeaching the President of the United States. However, this much is beyond dispute:
Ukraine survived a 55-day pause in security assistance, after which President Trump furnished them with lethal aid last September 11.
In contrast, Ukraine waited in vain for 1,066 days for Obama to provide such deadly military relief. Instead, for two years and 11 months — between Russia’s February 20, 2014 invasion and Obama’s January 20, 2017 departure from the White House — Obama sent Ukraine pillows and blankets. While President Trump ultimately dispatched tank-destroying missiles to Kiev, Obama gave the embattled Ukrainians something akin to a gift card for Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor, a contributing editor with National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.