New reports out Tuesday add more context to President Trump's view of Ukraine before he made his famous call to that nation's leader in July. The upshot is that Vladimir Putin and Hungary's Viktor Orban each bad-mouthed Ukraine as a corrupt nation to Trump, reinforcing what he was being told by Rudy Giuliani. All of which "set the stage for events that led to the impeachment inquiry against him," per the New York Times. Details:
- Putin: The Russian leader spoke with Trump by phone in May, and he "did what he always does" in denigrating Ukraine, a former US official tells the Washington Post. "He has always said Ukraine is just a den of corruption."
- Orban: The Hungarian leader met with Trump at the White House, also in May, and "exposed him to a harsh indictment of Ukraine" around the same time Trump was hearing the same from Giuliani, reports the Times. The newspaper adds that the meeting itself was controversial, because Orban is viewed as a hard-line autocrat. Then-national security adviser John Bolton opposed the meeting, but chief of staff Mick Mulvaney prevailed in making it happen.