PBS Wonders How Much Trump Contributed To Invasion of Ukraine

Former US Ambassador to Ukraine and former impeachment witness Marie Yovanovitch’s book tour took her to PBS on Tuesday, where NewsHour host Judy Woodruff and Amanpour and Company‘s Christiane Amanpour wondered how former President Trump played into Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

Woodruff suggested Trump sent some sort of “signal” to Putin: “But when it came to the — the debacle over what happened in Ukraine under President Trump, his pushing you out of your job, in retrospect, did that send a signal of some kind, do you think, to Vladimir, about the United States Putin?”

Yovanovitch repeated the usual narrative about Trump putting his own personal interests above that of the country:

…this was an administration that was about things other than our own national security interests. It was really, you know, later on I think the transcript was revealed and the whistleblower complaint revealed this was an administration, this was a president that was trading on his office for his personal and political gain. And that signals to Putin and to other bad actors around the world that you can make a — a deal, right?

She then offered up a contradictory explanation of how Trump supposedly emboldened Putin: “I think Putin, during the Trump years, although the official US policy was very strong, during the Trump years, I think what Putin saw is that he was getting exactly what he needed. To the extent that the President [Trump] thought about Ukraine, he kind of dismissed it as a weak pawn.”

Yovanovitch’s tenure in Kyiv began under President Obama, who refused to provide lethal aid to Ukraine, arguing it would risk escalation. It was Trump who changed this policy and Woodruff did not even acknowledge this and neither did Amanpour:

The call to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which turned out to be a transactional call, saying that, you know, our weapons and our help to you might depend on — on you giving me dirt on my political opponent. First, I want to ask you, materially and substantively, how dangerous was that holding out on weapons, on the kind of help that many NATO countries were providing to Ukraine? Did that make a material difference to Ukraine’s ability to defend itself then?

Yovanovitch also ignored Obama’s role when she declared, “Well, it always makes a difference, if not materially, certainly signaling US support because we are Ukraine’s strongest partner.” She then proceeded to make the same claims she made earlier with Woodruff.

If Woodruff and Amanpour were true they would have asked if Yovanovitch if she agreed with Obama and if he jeopardized national security by not reacting strong enough to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

These segments were sponsored by viewers like you.

Here are the transcripts for the March 15 shows:

PBS NewsHour

3/15/2022

7:28 PM ET

JUDY WOODRUFF: On your book, there’s, it’s — it’s the story of your life, your journey in the foreign service, serving overseas, representing the United States. But when it came to the — the debacle over what happened in Ukraine under former-President Trump, his pushing you out of your job, in retrospect, did that send a signal of some kind, do you think, to Vladimir Putin, about the United States?

MARIE YOVANOVITCH: I — I think that it may have indicated to those who were watching and perhaps Putin was one of them that—that– this was an administration that was about things other than our own national security interests. It was really, you know, later on I think the transcript was revealed and the whistleblower complaint revealed this was an administration, this was a president that was trading on his office for his personal and political gain. And that signals to Putin and to other bad actors around the world that you can make a — a deal, right? Because if you somehow help the president, then you can go off and do your own thing and I think Putin, during the Trump years, although the official US policy was very strong, during the Trump years, I think what Putin saw is that he was getting exactly what he needed. To the extent that the President [Trump] thought about Ukraine, he kind of dismissed it as a weak pawn. And I think the other thing is that, with regard to NATO, the president’s views were well known, and many of his senior advisors have said he probably would have pulled the country, the US, out of NATO, had he won a second term . That would have probably spelled the demise of NATO.

PBS Amanpour and Company

3/16/2022

1:30 AM ET

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Let’s go back to your book and let’s back to the — the issue that put you front and center and made you a household name. And that was, obviously, Trump’s first impeachment trial which was generated by what he called the perfect call. The call to Volodymyr Zelenskyy which turned out to be a transactional call saying that, you know, our weapons and our help to you might depend on — on you giving me dirt on my political opponent. First, I want to ask you, materially and substantively, how dangerous was that holding out on weapons, on the kind of help that many NATO countries were providing to Ukraine? Did that make a material difference to Ukraine’s ability to defend itself then?

MARIE YOVANOVITCH: Well, it always makes a difference, if not materially, certainly signaling US support because we are Ukraine’s strongest partner. We have provided more assistance whether it is humanitarian, economic, or security assistance than any other country. And for the president of the United States, as was revealed, to be ready to trade our security assistance and really our national security values ​​and interests for his own personal and political gain sends a signal, first of all, to Ukraine that maybe we don ‘t really have Ukraine’s back, maybe we are not that strong partner that Ukraine needs because, don’t forget, Ukraine was still even at that time at — at war with — with Russia. But it also sends that signal to Putin and every other bad actor in the world that this is a president who is thinking about his own interests.

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