A mere two weeks ago, we reported on how the Donald Trump campaign intervened in the writing of the GOP platform to basically make it GOP policy to go along with Vladimir Putin’s proxy war against Ukraine. This is how the Washington Post described the event:
Trump staffers in the room, who are not delegates but are there to oversee the process, intervened. By working with pro-Trump delegates, they were able to get the issue tabled while they devised a method to roll back the language.
On the sideline, Denman tried to persuade the Trump staffers not to change the language, but failed. “I was troubled when they put aside my amendment and then watered it down,” Denman told me. “I said, ‘What is your problem with a country that wants to remain free?’ It seems like a simple thing.”
Finally, Trump staffers wrote an amendment to Denman’s amendment that stripped out the platform’s call for “providing lethal defensive weapons” and replaced it with softer language calling for “appropriate assistance.”
That amendment was voted on and passed. When the Republican Party releases its platform Monday, the official Republican party position on arms for Ukraine will be at odds with almost all the party’s national security leaders.
In fact, on his Sunday appearance on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, while Trump was denying that Vladimir Putin was even interested in Ukraine he admitted his staff was involved in making the change to the platform
STEPHANOPOULOS: Then why did you soften the GOP platform on Ukraine?
TRUMP: I wasn’t involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Your people were.
TRUMP: Yes. I was not involved in that. I’d like to — I’d have to take a look at it. But I was not involved in that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you know what they did?
TRUMP: They softened it, I heard, but I was not involved.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They took away the part of the platform calling for the provision of lethal weapons to Ukraine to defend themselves.
Why is that a good idea?
TRUMP: Well, look, you know, I have my own ideas. He’s not going into Ukraine, OK?
Just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right?
You can mark it down and you can put it down, you can take it anywhere you want.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, he’s already there, isn’t he?
TRUMP: OK, well, he’s there in a certain way, but I’m not there yet. You have Obama there. And frankly, that whole part of the world is a mess under Obama, with all the strength that you’re talking about and all of the power of NATO and all of this, in the meantime, he’s going where — he takes — takes Crimea, he’s sort of — I mean… [and from there we take a quick trip to Crazy Town]
Oddly enough, while Trump was admitting that his campaign changed the GOP platform to the benefit of Vladimir Putin, Paul Manafort, alleged Russian mob fixer, whitewasher of genocidal despots, and de facto manager of the Donald Trump election effort was on NBC News denying that anything like that happened.
CHUCK TODD: And before I let you go, there’s been some controversy about something in the Republican Party platform that essentially changed the Republican Party’s views when it comes to Ukraine. How much influence did you have in changing that language, sir?
PAUL MANAFORT: I had none. In fact, I didn’t even hear of it until after our convention was over.
CHUCK TODD: Where did it comes from then? Because everybody on the platform committee had said it came from the Trump campaign. If not you, who?
PAUL MANAFORT: It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign. And I don’t know who everybody is, but I guarantee you it was nobody that was on the platform committee–
CHUCK TODD: So nobody from the Trump campaign wanted that change in the platform?
PAUL MANAFORT: No one, zero.
In fact, Manafort was asked about the policy change in a press conference during the convention and Trump’s policy adviser
Jabba the Hut Sam Clovis defended the action during the convention.
The Post’s Josh Rogin wonders why Manafort is telling such a blatant lie:
Why is Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort denying that his staff worked to keep the Republican platform from supporting U.S. weapons deliveries to Ukraine? His claims about the episode contradict not only the facts, but also the candidate’s long-standing position on the issue. He would be better off just owning it.
So why did Manafort bother to deny on Sunday that the campaign was involved in the platform change? Campaign sources told me that mostly, Manafort was acting out of habit. Just like when Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing portions of Michelle Obama’s 2008 convention speech, Manafort’s initial instinct is to just deny everything and blame the Clinton campaign and the press.
Another possible explanation is that the Trump campaign is now trying to pull back from its long-held pro-Russian positions. Manafort has faced increased criticism for his years of work as a lobbyist for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. And Trump’s sympathetic attitude toward Putin looks less politically viable as more evidence emerges about the Russian government’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other U.S. political institutions.
John Schindler of 20Committee provides the most succinct explanation:
Because he's been on the FSB — sorry "Yanukovych"– payroll for years & sensibly wants to not discuss that.https://t.co/A5uWpKziIx
— John Schindler (@20committee) August 1, 2016