Conway refuses to say Trump did not offer Ukraine quid pro quo

US president’s adviser attacks impeachment inquiry in heated exchange on talk show

 Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to US president Donald Trump, talks to reporters on the driveway outside the White House in Washington, DC. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to US president Donald Trump, talks to reporters on the driveway outside the White House in Washington, DC. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 

As Donald Trump repeated his demand that the whistleblower who triggered the impeachment inquiry should be identified, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway refused to say the president did not offer the leader of Ukraine a quid pro quo involving military aid and the investigation of his political rivals.

That is the issue at the heart of impeachment proceedings: whether or not nearly $400 million (€358m) in military aid to Ukraine was illegally withheld, pending Mr Trump’s demand that Volodymyr Zelenskiy investigate alleged corruption involving Joe Biden and other supposed wrongdoing linked to Democrats in 2016.

“The whistleblower got it sooo wrong that HE must come forward,” Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday. “The Fake News Media knows who he is but, being an arm of the Democrat Party, don’t want to reveal him because there would be hell to pay. Reveal the Whistleblower and end the Impeachment Hoax!”

In a heated exchange on CNN’s State of the Union, Ms Conway refused to answer yes or no when asked if Mr Trump had ever offered Mr Zelenskiy a quid pro quo over military aid. “I don’t know,” she said, “but I know they’ve got their aid. Here’s what’s unimpeachably true: Ukraine has the aid, and the Ukrainian president has said he had no idea the aid was being held up and felt no such pressure.”

The White House continues to attempt to paint a July 25th call between Mr Trump and Mr Zelenskiy which lies at the heart of the impeachment inquiry as wholly innocent, despite the evidence of its own transcript and sworn testimony from two national security officials.

That testimony was given to House members on Capitol Hill in private. After Republican complaints about the closed-door proceedings – in which Republican representatives took full part – Democrats last week staged a full House vote, clearing the way for public hearings.

On CNN, Ms Conway was asked to “definitively” say that no quid pro quo was ever offered to Ukraine. “There was no quid pro quo on this call,” she said, carefully, brandishing what appeared to be the partial transcript of the July 25th call that was published by the White House.

“President Trump never said to the Ukrainian president, ‘Do this and you’ll get your aid.’ It’s simply not here. It’s not in the transcript.”

Inaccuracies

Last week, Lt Col Alexander Vindman, a national security staff member, testified that he had been concerned by the call, by steps taken to keep it secret and by what he said were inaccuracies and omissions in the published version.

Mr Trump called Lt Col Vindman a “Never Trumper”, a kind of Republican he recently called “human scum”. Ms Conway deflected questions about whether the president would apply that description to Lt Col Vindman, who served and was wounded in Iraq and who attended his testimony in his army uniform.

Asked if she was confident that there was never a quid pro quo, Ms Conway said: “I feel totally confident Ukraine has the aid and is using it right now.” Host Dana Bash shot back: “Kellyanne, quid pro quo. Yes or no?” “I don’t know whether aid was being held up,” Ms Conway said. “But I do know that we’re trying to impeach a president in this country. But why? There’s nothing in this conversation so far resonates in this country, especially in the 17 swing states, that would lead to a high crime or misdemeanour.”

As Ms Conway held the White House line on CNN and Fox News Sunday – and the House Republican whip Steve Scalise did likewise on ABC’s This Week – her husband George Conway was busy on Twitter: recommending articles and books about the impeachment process. A high-profile Republican lawyer, he has emerged as one of Mr Trump’s most vehement critics, both online and in the pages of the Washington Post.– Guardian