Russian President Vladimir Putin and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban both reinforced President Trump’s negative view of Ukraine in the weeks before and after his July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president, The Washington Post reports. Putin and Orban did not specifically encourage Trump’s fixation on the unsubstantiated Ukraine-related allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, nor did they claim Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election, the Post reports. Rather, both leaders reportedly reinforced Trump’s belief that Ukraine was corrupt. Trump spoke to Putin on the phone weeks before his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, again on July 28 during a summit in Japan, and again on July 31 by phone. Trump also met with Orban at the White House prior to the Zelensky call, which is now the subject of a whistleblower complaint that prompted a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. Officials said Trump’s specific focus on the corruption allegations against the Bidens was driven by Trump’s personal impulses and theories pushed by his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Putin’s and Orban’s influencing power over Trump was reportedly described to Congress by George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state, in closed-door testimony last week. The White House has not yet commented publicly on the matter.