"They tried to take me down," Trump burst in.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, a senior member of the group, assured Trump that the new Ukrainian president is different – a reformer in the form of Trump, who even quoted President Ronald Reagan in his opening address, attended by the three advisers.
But the more they pressed into the Oval Office, the more Trump resisted.
"They are horrible and corrupt people," Trump told them.
So far, a dozen witnesses have testified before House Deputies after a closed-door impeachment investigation began a month ago. One topic that goes through almost all their accounts is Trump's steadfast aversion to Ukraine, which dates back to his earliest days in the White House.
"We could never understand it," a former senior White House official said of Trump's opinion. of the former Soviet republic, also saying that much of it stems from the president's embrace of conspiracy theories. "There were allegations that they had somehow worked with the Clinton campaign. He was accused of injuring him. He just hated Ukraine. ”
White House officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Trump's hostility to Ukraine has grown so deep and so resilient to the typical foreign policy commitment of the need to support allies that senior officials involved in Ukraine's policy have come to the conclusion that the only way to overcome this is to establish Oval Office meeting with Trump and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.
The United States and Ukrainian officials would spend months chasing the Trump-Zelensky meeting. In their fruitless attempt to do so, Perry, Volker and Gordon Sundland, US ambassador to the European Union, will encourage Ukrainians to join Trump's requests and his personal lawyer, Rudolf W. Giuliani, to launch investigations in Trump's favor politically.
In the end, Trump, in a July 25 phone call, will directly press Ukrainian President Dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
"I would like you to do us a favor," Trump told Zelensky, according to a transcript of the call.
The roots of this request date back to the earliest days of Trump's presidency, when Zelensky is still a Ukrainian sitcom actor, and Trump's top foreign policy advisers try to make sense of Trump's dissatisfaction with Kiev and shape Ukraine's policy .
In the fall of 201
7, Trump was appointed to meet with then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the UN in New York. At the time, US officials were working to convince Trump that Ukraine, imprisoned in a long war with Russian-backed forces, was worthy of American support.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson then told Volker that he would have about 45 seconds to inform Trump before meeting Poroshenko. If Trump was interested in learning more, Tillerson said, the president would ask questions. Volker rushed across the pitch, according to former US officials who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic topics.
Trump then looked at Volker with his negative views on Ukraine, suggesting that this was not a "real country", that she had always been part of Russia, and that she was "completely corrupt. "
Inside the administration, Trump's top advisers discuss the origins of his bad feelings. Some say Trump sees Ukraine as an obstacle to a better US relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, angry with US sanctions imposed on Moscow over Crimea's annexation and the Kremlin's continued support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.  During Trump's UN meeting with Poroshenko, US officials debated whether to sell anti-tank weapons to Ukrainians. In the previous administration, President Barack Obama had decided against the sale, fearing it would make the conflict more bloody.
Trump's entire national security cabinet unanimously supported him. But Trump hesitated. "He kept saying it. "It wasn't worth pissing off Russia and what a bad country Ukraine was," the former White House senior official said.
Trump told his top advisers that "everyone" was telling him not to, because that would make Russia angry. In fact, months later, Trump approved the sale of the weapons in December 2017.
His skepticism and dislike for Ukraine, however, did not diminish, but, if anything, deepened over time.
Some advisers, such as Lt. Col. Alexander Windman, who led Ukraine's policy at the National Security Council, told lawmakers that "outside influencers are promoting a false story about Ukraine" by Trump, which is "detrimental to US government policy."
Ukraine was weak, torn apart by war and desperate for US support. This had nothing to offer Trump, whose foreign policy focus was reversed by the US trade deficit.
Sundland, a Trump campaign donor turned diplomat, accused Giuliani of publicly accusing Ukraine of corruption and tampering with the 2016 election for solidifying Trump's views. And he views Julian as the key to restoring Trump's hostility.
"It was obvious to all of us that the key to changing the President's view on Ukraine was Mr Giuliani," Sundland told MPs in October.
USA. officials also argued about how best to convince Trump of Ukraine's importance to US policy. Ambassador William B. Taylor, Jr., a top US diplomat in Kiev and many longtime foreign officials, made an argument based on values and the principle of support for the international order. In his testimony to MPs, Taylor noted that in the attack on Ukraine's sovereignty, Russia "broke a myriad of treaties" and "rejected all principles that maintained peace and contributed to prosperity in Europe after World War II."
Congress, Republicans and Democrats support Ukraine as a defense of American democratic principles. Ukraine was a fragile democracy, fighting both internal corruption and its powerful neighbor.
None of these lofty arguments works with Trump. "Many Americans feel strongly about supporting Ukraine because it is a little boy and fighting for values we consider to be mostly American," said Molly Montgomery, who serves on Vice President Pence's team and now works for the Albright Stonebridge Group. "But it is clear that Trump does not share this empathy. On the whole, he is more involved with the powerful side in any dispute. "
From his early days in office, Trump made it clear that he had little patience for alliances or something that obliged the United States to protect a weaker ally. He has repeatedly questioned the usefulness of NATO and persecuted Europeans for no longer contributing to common defense. US officials describe Trump's mood as short-lived and transactional. Instead of seeking allies, Trump is forever looking for a deal, they say.
It was the impulse that made him see what he could pull from the Ukrainians in exchange for a meeting in the Oval Office, officials said.  "The whole episode is unfortunately not surprising," said a senior US official familiar with US policy toward Ukraine. "It is the epitome of impulsive, self-determined decision-making at the top that undermines US power."
In the end, most US officials agreed that Trump's anger at Ukraine, like many of his complaints, was related to the Election in 2016 and his sense that Ukraine is responsible for the humiliating fall of Paul Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign. Trump's hatred, they concluded, was rooted, irrational and probably irreversible.
"Ukraine has always been problematic from day one," Senator Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.), a close ally of Trump and the Russian hawk, said in an interview. "He has heard a lot about Ukraine from many people."