NYT report demolishes Fox News talking point about Trump's Ukraine quid pro quo

Citation Video by Miles Le

Update (10/23/19, 9 p.m.): Hours after The New York Times reported that Ukraine knew the Trump administration was withholding aid, Fox’s Jesse Watters claimed on The Five, “There is no quid pro quo because the Ukrainians didn’t even know that any of the money was being withheld.”

New reporting by The New York Times revealed that Ukraine was aware that Trump was withholding military aid, a key detail in the impeachment inquiry into whether Trump engaged in a quid pro quo to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival. Trump’s strongest defenders have insisted that it is impossible to have a quid pro quo if Ukraine was unaware that military aid was being withheld; while many on Fox insisted that Ukraine never was told of such a freeze, reporting in the New York Times now confirms that it was.

But in fact, word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times.

The problem was not a bureaucratic glitch, the Ukrainians were told then. To address it, they were advised, they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the interviews and records.

Although there is currently no evidence that the Ukrainian president was aware of the plan to withhold military aid during his phone call with Trump on July 25, the Times noted that Ukrainian officials knew about the freeze much earlier than previously reported:

The timing of the communications about the issue, which have not previously been reported, shows that Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than United States and Ukrainian officials had acknowledged. And it means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations being sought by Mr. Trump.

Fox News previously claimed that there was no quid pro quo because Ukraine did not know about the withholding of aid

Fox & Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt insisted that “if every single person who has gone behind closed doors and not one of them has said that Ukraine knew that they were holding up aid, then there is no quid pro quo.”

Earhardt also paraphrased a GOP congressman’s insistence that “there has not been one person who said that Ukraine knew that the money was being delayed, so therefore there is no quid pro quo."

Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy insisted that “nobody has said that the Ukrainians knew that U.S. aid was withheld,” and therefore, “you can’t have quid pro quo without the quo.”

Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum said that because Ukraine “didn’t know that the military aid had had a pause on it, it makes it difficult” to conclude that there was a quid pro quo.

On Hannity, Fox contributor Sara Carter said that there’s “absolutely no quid pro quo” because the Ukrainian president “had no idea that any military aid was being withheld.”

On her Fox show, host Laura Ingraham said that “Ukrainian leaders didn’t even know that aid was being withheld.”

Fox’s Deroy Murdock said that Ukrainian officials “never knew the military aid was delayed,” adding, “You can’t have a quid pro quo unless the person knows ‘OK, he’s holding back something I want.’”