Days before a key meeting with White House advisers about Ukraine, foreign leaders including Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThese 3 women are defining the race to unseat Trump The Russo-Chinese alliance emerges Russia’s snub of Geneva Convention protocol sets dangerous precedent MORE and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reportedly urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn’t want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump’s use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE to take a hostile view of Kiev.
Trump met with Orban on May 13, 10 days before the meeting with several top presidential advisers, including now-outgoing Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Watchdog warns of threats to federal workers on public lands | Perry to step down on December 1 | Trump declines to appear in Weather Channel climate special Perry to step down on December 1 Here’s what to watch this week on impeachment MORE, former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerDiplomats describe all-time low in morale at State under Trump Here’s what to watch this week on impeachment Perry won’t comply with subpoena in impeachment inquiry MORE and Gordon D. Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, The New York Times reports.
His conversations with Orban and Putin strengthened his views that Ukraine was a corrupt nation looking to undermine him in the 2016 presidential election, The Washington Post reports.
The Hungarian and Russian leaders, however, reportedly did not specifically urge Trump to ask Ukraine for information on Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he doesn’t want NYT in the White House Warren to protest with striking Chicago teachers Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE.
Former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonGadhafi’s ghost still haunts US policymakers Trump job approval slips 2 points in Gallup poll Washington indecision compounded the Kurds’ dilemma MORE and Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council’s senior director for Eurasian and Russian affairs, opposed the Trump-Orban White House meeting, but acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyTrump urges GOP to fight for him Bill Press: Mulvaney proves need for daily briefings Gingrich calls for eliminating White House press corps in wake of Mulvaney briefing MORE ultimately overruled them, the Post reports.
During the May 23 meeting, several top Trump advisers reportedly reassured the president that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky deserved support from the U.S., but Trump called the Ukrainians “terrible people” who “tried to take me down” in 2016.
At the time of the meeting, Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTrump says he doesn’t want NYT in the White House Diplomat who raised Ukraine concerns to testify in Trump impeachment probe Pelosi releases ‘fact sheet’ saying Trump has ‘betrayed his oath of office’ MORE, was also working to influence the president about Ukraine as he aimed to pressure Kiev to provide damaging information about Democrats. Trump then pressured Zelensky during a July 25 call to investigate Biden and his son. House Democrats launched in impeachment inquiry in September amid revelations surrounding that call.
The Orban visit came up during closed-door testimony last week from George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of State, according to the Post, Kent was the fourth witness in the impeachment investigation, following Volker, Hill and former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.