Today, the Ohio Democratic Party released an updated timeline of @senrobportman 's intense involvement in the Ukraine crisis that is now the center of the impeachment inquiry.
The bottom line is that as chair of the Ukraine Caucus, Portman didn’t only have a front row seat to the entire ordeal — it appears that he was directly engaged with all sides of what was a deeply problematic conversation as that conversation occurred.
Portman owes Ohioans and all Americans a full and transparent account of what he knew, when he knew it and what steps he took once it became clear what Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were up to.
Contrast Portman to Sen. Murphy. When Murphy met w Ukrainian pres Zelensky in September — as Portman did in May—he told Zelensky “he should not take orders from Trump’s campaign and that his credibility would be greatly compromised if he interfered in the 2020 election.”
Compared to Murphy, what did Portman do? What did he say? In fact, as Chair of the Ukraine Caucus who presumably knew more than anyone, the question for every point of time on the timeline is what did Portman know at that moment? What did he do? What did he say?
Onto the timeline:
January 2019 — Giuliani meets with the Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko. (Giuliani admitted to the meeting in a July 2019 story for the New Yorker and told the New York Times that he called Trump during their first meeting.)
Jan. 15, 2019 — Portman votes to let the Trump administration ease sanctions on companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. One day earlier he had told CNN he would “be more on that side” of supporting sanctions.
Why did he switch?
March 20, 2019 — The Hill publishes a dubious story sourced to Lutsenko that gets bounced around the right-wing media echo chamber and conservative Twitter (including Donald Trump Jr.).
April 29, 2019 — The whistleblower learns that Yovanovitch was being “suddenly recalled” — and Giuliani tells Ukrainian media that it’s because of her “efforts against the president.”
Having talked to the ambassador recently, what did Portman do?
May 6, 2019 —The State Dept announces that Yovanovitch is leaving her post early. Dem lawmakers call her removal a “political hit job"
Did Portman agree? What did he do? As Chair of the Ukraine Caucus, did he talk to the outgoing Ambassador? Or State? Or the White House?
May 9, 2019 — Giuliani admits to the New York Times that he is “meddling in an investigation” in Ukraine.
What did Portman know? What did he do? As Chair of the Ukraine Caucus, did he try to understand what Giuliani meant? Was this connected to the Ambassador's departure?
May 31, 2019 — Portman tweets that he met with Zelensky and “encouraged them to continue [their] anti-corruption efforts.”
What did he learn from Zelensky? Did he hear about Giuliani’s efforts on this trip? What did he say?
June 5, 2019 — Portman delivers floor speech about his trip to Ukraine.
“I am very hopeful [Zelensky] will have the continued courage to see it through, whether we are talking about fighting corruption, more transparency in government or civilian control of the military...
"He understands it is the only path forward and frankly a linchpin of the U.S. partnership with Ukraine, and as a matter of law, a condition of our future defense assistance.”"
Did Portman know at the time that this was the same language Giuliani was using?
June 19, 2019 — Portman questions the Trump administration’s special envoy for Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Had he talked to Volker throughout the year? What had he learned? What did he say/do?
July 25, 2019 — Trump has his infamous call with Zelensky.
Did Portman hear about this call from his many “friends” in the White House?
July 31, 2019 — Portman agrees to serve as the co-chair of the Trump campaign in Ohio.
Did he do this knowing about the Trump/Giuliani efforts in Ukraine?
Sept. 1, 2019 — Pence meets w Zelensky in Poland. Pence, asked if holding up funding because of efforts to “dig up dirt on the Biden family, says that “Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption.”
(Same language as Portman)
Sept. 3, 2019 — The Senate Ukraine Caucus sends a letter to Mick Mulvaney at the Office of Management and Budget calling on the OMB to direct the Pentagon to release the funds.
Did Portman really think OMB was the source of the hold-up?
Sept. 5, 2019 — Wash. Post pens editorial making clear that Trump “is attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”
Did Portman read it? What did he do?
Sept. 11, 2019 — Portman calls Trump to ask him to release the funds.
What was said on this call? Did the Post editorial come up? Giuliani's meetings? Etc.
Sept. 12, 2019 — Trump releases the funding.
In following weeks, the complaint and phone call spill out into public controversy.
Sept. 24, 2019 — Portman goes on Fox Business and Fox News to defend Trump, repeating Trump’s talking points that he sees no quid pro quo.
Had Portman told Trump previously that he thought all this behavior was ok? Is that why he never felt thee need to say anything?
Sept. 25, 2019 — Portman tells a reporter for Spectrum News 1 that he doesn’t believe Trump’s behavior crossed a line.
Had Portman told Trump previously that he thought his behavior was ok? Is that why he never said or did anything?
Sept. 26, 2019 — Portman tells CNN he had been “been ‘running around’ all day” and had not read the complaint and refused to comment.
He had been intimately involved in all this, all year, but didn't even want to see the complaint?
He says he had been fighting for the dollars to be released for months, but didn't even want to understand why they'd been held up?
Or did he already know?
And if he already knew, when did he learn? Why did he say nothing? Or was he OK with it, like he told the media?