The Trump administration’s United States Trade Representative reportedly withheld his recommendation to reinstate some of Ukraine’s trade privileges with the U.S. in late August, the same time when President Donald Trump had frozen military aid to Ukraine.
According to the Washington Post’s Thursday report, Robert E. Lighthizer was going to submit a report to President Donald Trump recommending that he restore some of Ukraine’s trade benefits until then-National Security Adviser John Bolton warned him not to.
An unnamed administration official told the Post that Bolton “intervened with Lighthizer to block it,” though the Post could not confirm whether Trump had ordered Bolton to do so.
“It was pulled back shortly before it was going to POTUS’ desk,” the official said.
Bolton reportedly told Lighthizer that Trump would likely oppose anything that would benefit Ukraine. Lighthizer had recommended that the President restore some of Ukraine’s exports to duty-free status, a benefit that was suspended in 2017 due to U.S. concerns over intellectual property rights violations in Ukraine.
Lighthizer reportedly made another effort to submit his recommendation in early October, only to withdraw it again on October 17 amid the growing House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine for political assistance.
Another Trump administration official told the Post that the announcement on Ukraine’s trade status, along with that of two other countries, had been halted due to a routine “review process.”
The administration will reportedly restore some of Ukraine’s trade privileges this month.