the national interest

Before It Stopped Cooperating With Mueller, Ukraine Hired GOP Lobbyists. Hmm.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Donald Trump Photo: Mikhail Palinchak/TASS via Getty Images

After the United States agreed to sell Ukraine some weapons, the Ukrainian government halted all cooperation with Robert Mueller’s probe. (Ukraine had previously supplied investigators with important evidence, like incriminating details of Paul Manafort’s secret payments from a Russian-backed party.) The weapons sale was the stated reason for this turnabout. I suggested the weapons sale might have been, at least in part, a bribe intended to induce Ukraine to withhold cooperation from Mueller.

Natasha Bertrand reports out more details on how the deal went down in Ukraine. The Ukrainians hired a Republican lobbying firm:

The Ukrainian government hired Haley Barbour, former Republican National Committee chairman and founding partner of BGR Group, to lobby in the United States just after Trump was elected, according to foreign lobbying registration documents filed with the Justice Department. Ed Rogers, the chairman of BGR, was hired for the lobbying work, too. The firm has ties to this White House: The Trump transition team held meetings with lobbyists at BGR Group’s offices, according to the Washington Post. And Rogers is “as inner circle Jeff Sessions as they come,” a source with knowledge of their relationship told me on condition of anonymity, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Both men are from Alabama.) BGR also worked with Corey Lewandowski.

Ed Rogers! Readers of this space will recognize Rogers as America’s Worst Columnist. In addition to his inability either to present a coherent argument or to write passable prose, Rogers, who somehow has a perch at the Washington Post op-ed page, is also a working lobbyist who brings massive, undisclosed conflicts of interest to virtually every topic he attempts to cover. Rogers has repeatedly argued (or, to put it more accurately, asserted) that Trump has not colluded with the Russian government. I don’t recall any of his columns mentioning the fact that he was lobbying on behalf of the Ukrainian government.

And of course, this relationship would seem to make it all the more likely that the arms deal involved a quid pro quo. Somebody had to explain to Ukraine’s government that it might be in their best interest to stop cooperating with Mueller if they wanted some new anti-tank missiles. The Republican lobbying firm Ukraine hired seems like a strong candidate to be that somebody.

Before Obstructing Mueller, Ukraine Hired GOP Lobbyists. Hm.