- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 15, 2019

To Trump campaign veterans, the stories surrounding the 2016 Republican Party platform debate on Ukraine have fed a myth as large as the Christopher Steele dossier’s unproven anti-Trump allegations.

The narrative has arisen again. The New York Times reported that the FBI opened an inquiry in May 2017 into whether President Trump was an agent of Russia. The investigation was sparked by Mr. Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey. One of the pieces of evidence was the debate on Ukraine at the Republican National Convention during which the plank supposedly was weakened to appease Russia.

No public evidence indicates Mr. Trump was involved.

Said a Trump associate: “Completely and utterly disgusting. Worse than fake news. The lie that just won’t die.”

Members of the Trump team say the plank was never watered down. In fact, they say, the final platform language backed Ukraine against Russia in stronger terms.

The narrative that summer in Cleveland: One delegate wanted to amend the draft language to commit the U.S. to provide “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces” in its battle against Vladimir Putin-backed separatists. The delegate also wanted to urge greater NATO coordination in Ukraine’s defense planning.

Trump advisers thought the specific pledge of weapons went beyond U.S. policy and locked in a future President Trump before an assessment. So the final Ukraine plank language was rewritten to pledge “appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine.” This commitment left open the possibility of directly arming Ukrainian troops.

The bottom line, say Trump associates: The call for lethal weapons was never in the plank to begin with. The draft language was rewritten to make it stronger.

The Republican majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence interviewed a number of Trump advisers involved.

Their final report in April concluded: “The change in the Republican Party platform regarding Ukraine resulted in a stronger position against Russia, not a weaker one.

“It has been widely reported that the 2016 Republican Party platform was weakened with respect to Ukraine, perhaps as a favor to Russia or some other nefarious reason,” the Republican report reads. “After reviewing the Republican Party platform amendment process, interviewing those involved and reviewing document production, the committee determined that the original plank was strengthened rather than weakened — and there is no evidence that language advocating for the provision of ‘lethal defensive weapons’ was improperly removed.”

The Trump associate told The Washington Times that Hillary Clinton loyalists and other Democrats continue to appear on CNN and MSNBC broadcasts to repeat the Ukraine platform disinformation.

“Clinton aides and others who knowingly invented lies and continue to spread them about the GOP platform supposed changes regarding Russia should be investigated for treason,” the associate said. “Fomenting unrest against a sitting president through anti-democratic, malicious activities must have consequences.”

This person said it was troubling that by May 2017, nearly a year after the Republican National Convention, the FBI would still be citing bogus Ukraine stories.

The New York Times said the FBI hierarchy also considered the Democratic Party-financed dossier, with its Kremlin sources, in deciding to open an inquiry into Mr. Trump.

Republicans considered the document to be a hoax. Some say it was deliberate Kremlin disinformation to muddy the 2016 election by making unverified charges against Mr. Trump.

Released text messages between FBI agent Peter Strzok, who led the bureau’s Russia investigation, and his lover, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, showed deep hostility toward Mr. Trump.

A postscript: The Trump administration last year approved a $47 million arms package for Ukraine that included lethal aid — 210 Javelin anti-tank weapons and scores of launchers. The Kiev government confirmed last spring that the highly effective weapons had arrived.

Last month, Ukrainian armor units took part in a combat exercise alongside U.S. Army troops in Germany, Stripes.com reported.

That same month, the U.S. executed a surprise spy flight over Ukraine in response to Russia’s attack on a Ukrainian naval ship in the Black Sea.

“Today, the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty. The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations,” the Pentagon said. “The United States is resolute in our support for the security of European nations.”

“Extraordinary” is a technical term outlined in the treaty.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.