After criticizing Hillary Clinton for her paid speeches to big banks during the presidential election, it has been revealed that President-elect Donald Trump was paid $150,000 to give a speech via the internet to Ukrainian business people while he was running for president.
According to Buzzfeed, recently released tax forms from Trump's charitable organization – the Trump Foundation – show a six-figure donation to the foundation from Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk in September, 2015.
“The payment to President-elect Trump’s foundation was in support of video link appearance at a conference called Yalta European Strategy Annual Meeting, which the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy (YES) — an NGO founded by Mr. Pinchuk — organize annually in September in Ukraine,” wrote Thomas Weihe, head of the board of the Pinchuk Foundation, in an email to BuzzFeed News.
The speech was widely reported by media outlets at the time, but the hefty payment was not.
The 20-minute video conference address was beset with technical difficulties. Moreover, the audience was reportedly “tipsy,” according to another Buzzfeed report of the 2015 event.
Trump's speech was standard fare for the then-candidate, who was on his way to securing the GOP nomination at the time. He criticized President Barack Obama and urged stronger relations between the U.S. and Ukraine.
“We have a leader that waffles, we have a leader that has no vision, we have a leader that’s making a deal with Iran that’s one of the worst deals that I’ve seen in my life,” Trump said of Obama to the foreign audience. “He’s willing to sign documents that nobody would sign, to make some of the worst contracts that anybody has seen.”
At one point, Trump was asked what his vision for being president would be and said, “to be a cheerleader for the world.”
He added: “I want the world to be a safer place. You look at what’s going on right now, there’s conflict everywhere, the Middle East, the Ukraine, you’re one of the great examples of all time, there’s no respect for the United States. They will respect us and again we will make statements and I think those statements will be honored. Ukraine is an amazing place.”
"With respect to the Ukraine, people here have to band together from other parts of Europe to help," Trump said, according to the Washington Post. "Whether it's Germany or other of the countries, I don't think you're getting the support you need."