Fact Check: Democrats Falsely Claim Trump Threatened to Withhold Aid from Ukraine

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
John Minchillo/AP Photo

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and former Vice President Joe Biden (D) both falsely claimed on Tuesday at the Democrat debate that President Donald Trump in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky threatened to without military aid to the country unless he agreed to investigate Biden and Biden’s son Hunter’s dealings in the country.

“You know, when he made that call to the head of Ukraine, he’s digging up dirt on an opponent,” Klobuchar said. “That’s illegal conduct.”

“That’s what he was doing,” Klobuchar said. “He didn’t talk to him about the Russian invasion.”

“He talked to him about that,” Klobuchar said.

“So I’m still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again,” Klobuchar said.

Biden agreed with Klobuchar’s narrative and claimed the Ukraine phone call was one of three times Trump has asked foreign entities to tamper with U.S. elections.

“This president on three occasions — three occasions — has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections,” Biden said. “The fact is that it is outrageous.”

As Breitbart News reported: 

Ukraine Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told the BBC on Tuesday that President Donald Trump did not order Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and that Trump did not threaten to withhold foreign aid in a phone call between the two leaders in July.

When the BBC radio host asked Prystaiko what he knew about the phone call that sparked the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump, he said he knew “quite enough” and “heard it myself.”

“So I can’t agree with what you said that the president mentioned this … that he would like us to investigate,” Prystaiko said. 

Instead, Prystaiko said Trump said on the call, “If I were you I would instigate each and every corruption case.”

“So it wasn’t a direct order as some are trying to picture,” said Prystaiko, who was the deputy foreign minister but is not the country’s foreign minister.

The BBC host then asked Prystaiko to confirm that he was saying that Trump did not order an investigation into the Bidens.

“There’s no blackmail here,” Prystaiko said.

Prystaiko also spoke with the BBC about the allegation that Trump threatened to withhold military aid if Ukraine didn’t cooperate with the president’s alleged request for an investigation into the Bidens’ dealings in the country.

“The military aid never was mentioned in the telephone call,” Prystaiko said, adding that the aid was granted “without any investigation started.”

“So there’s no direct link, and it was not that directly said by President Trump,” Prystaiko said.

Prystaiko said that Ukraine gets funding from both the State Department and the Pentagon, evaluation of that aid is done every year, and negotiations about the latest aid had been going on for close to a year.

He also said Ukraine doesn’t want to be involved in politics.

“We’ve been sucked into the internal politics of the United States, which we want to stay away from,” Prystaiko said.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.

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