How the Diplomatic Pros Lost Ukraine To Trump

In Conflict of Interest, FOREIGN RELATIONS On
- Updated

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The story of Trump’s strongarming of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is first and foremost one of Trump’s abuse of his presidential power in pursuit of personal political gain. But it is also an epic example of how Trump has destroyed U.S. diplomacy in places around the world where, for years, it had worked smoothly and relatively effectively despite the growing partisan polarization in Washington.

As one of the relatively few U.S. journalists who has followed Ukraine closely over the years, I find that the saddest part of this story has been watching a once-cohesive community of U.S. diplomatic pros on Ukraine be crushed as it tried to contain and manage the hurricane-like intervention of Giuliani and Trump. The whistleblower’s complaint offers a partial picture of this unraveling, and I have heard more in several conversations with longtime sources.

Though Trump never had a positive view of Ukraine, the trouble really started with Giuliani, who has a record of working for and with the very Ukrainian actors that U.S. policy has aimed to marginalize: shady business executives and corrupt politicians with ties to Russia, organized crime or both.

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A Guide to Impeachment: Trump Was Repeatedly Warned That Ukraine Conspiracy Theory Was ‘Completely Debunked

  • What Impeachment Is: Impeachment is charging a holder of public office with misconduct. Here are answers to seven key questions about the process.
  • What Was Said: The White House released a reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
  • A Visual Timeline: Here are the key figures and dates as Mr. Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.
  • Why Now: A whistle-blower complaint filed last month says that White House officials believed they had witnessed President Trump abuse his power for political gain. Here are 8 takeaways from the complaint.
  • How Trump Responds: The president said the impeachment battle would be “a positive” for his chances of winning a second term next year. On Thursday, Mr. Trump repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint as “crooked.”

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