Ukrainian Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka announced on Wednesday that the country was expanding its criminal investigation into Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which is at the center of House Democrats’ attempt to impeach President Donald Trump.
“After he took office in late August, Ryaboshapka launched a wide-ranging audit of criminal cases to see whether they had been conducted properly,” Reuters reported. “Thirteen of them relate to Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, Ryaboshapka told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday.”
“Ryaboshapka’s predecessors oversaw a series of investigations into Zlochevsky, a multimillionaire former minister of ecology and natural resources,” Reuters continued. “The allegations concern tax violations, money-laundering and licences given to Burisma during the period where Zlochevsky was a minister.”
Kostiantyn Kulyk, a Ukrainian prosecutor that has investigated Burisma, allegedly suspected in a leaked document that Zlochevsky committed a series of offenses, “including using his official position to embezzle 800 million hryvnias ($33 million) of money belonging to the central bank.”
Ryaboshapka said the Ukraine government suspected Zlochevsky was involved in the “theft of government funds on an especially large scale.”
Burisma is at the center of the push by Democrats to impeach Trump after Trump took an interest in knowing more about alleged corruption involving the Bidens and Ukraine.
The controversy surrounds a July 25 phone call that Trump had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which opponents of the president allege that he engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine, demanding that they investigate Biden if they wanted to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. financial assistance.
Democrats and the media have honed in on this part of the transcript from the phone call as being problematic:
The President: I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation. I think you’re surrounding yourself with some of the same people. I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.
President Zelenskyy: Yes it is very important for me and everything that you just mentioned earlier. For me as a President, it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation. We are ready to open a new page on cooperation in relations between the United States and Ukraine. For that purpose, I just recalled our ambassador from United States and he will be replaced by a very competent and very experienced ambassador who will work hard on making sure that our two nations are getting closer. I would also like and hope to see him having your trust and your confidence and have personal relations with you so we can cooperate even more so. I will personally tell you that one of my assistants spoke with Mr. Giuliani just recently and we are hoping very much that Mr. Giuliani will be able to travel to Ukraine and we will meet once he comes to Ukraine. I just wanted to assure you once again that you have nobody but friends around us. I will make sure that I surround myself with the best and most experienced people. I also wanted to tell you that we are friends. We are great friends and you Mr. President have friends in our country so we can continue our strategic partnership. I also plan to surround myself with great people and in addition to that investigation, I guarantee as the President of Ukraine that all the investigations will be done openly and candidly.. That I can assure you.
The President: Good because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you. I will ask him to call you along with the Attorney General. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great. The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that. The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.
Opponents of the president have attempted to take the first sentence from the above transcript and connect it to the two last sentences, skipping over nearly 500 words in between, presenting it in the following way:
I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. … The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it… It sounds horrible to me.
The Daily Wire reported on Wednesday: “Through days of hearings of the House Intelligence Committee, multiple witnesses have stated that there was no quid pro quo, including Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, Senior NSC official Tim Morrison, Ambassador Kurt Volker, and Ambassador Gordon Sondland.”