Fact Check: Trump Did, In fact, Care About Corruption in Ukraine Before Bidens

Catherine Croft (Samuel Corum / Getty)
Samuel Corum / Getty

CLAIM: President Donald Trump did not care about corruption in general in Ukraine — only with regard to Joe Biden, a political rival.

VERDICT: False. Trump raised the issue of corruption in Ukraine long before Biden came up.

Democrat counsel Daniel Goldman, presenting the House Intelligence Committee’s report at an impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on Monday, claimed that President Trump did not care about corruption in Ukraine except as a means to attack a domestic political rival, namely former Vice President Joe Biden.

He cited the fact that Trump did not bring up corruption on his congratulatory phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in April, and only mentioned Biden on his second phone call to Zelensky in July.

Biden had boasted of intervening in Ukraine to force the firing of a prosecutor while his son, Hunter, held a well-compensated board position in Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company reportedly suspected of corruption.

But that was not Trump’s only expression of concern about corruption in Ukraine.

One key witness, State Department official Catherine Croft, told the Intelligence Committee in testimony behind closed doors that Trump had lectured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about corruption in 2017 — in front of his entire delegation — before agreeing to lift a hold on U.S. military aid:

Catherine Croft excerpt (House Intelligence Committee)

Catherine Croft excerpt (House Intelligence Committee)

Croft: The President was skeptical of providing weapons to Ukraine.

Q: Why?

Croft: When this was discussed, including in front of the Ukrainian delegation, in fnont of President Poroshenko, he described his concerns being that Ukraine was corrupt, that it was capable of being a very rich country, and that the United States shouldn’t pay for it, but instead, we should be providing aid through loans.

Notably, Croft was not among the witnesses Democrats later called to testify in public hearings.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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