The July 25 phone call that sparked the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry famously included President Trump’s request that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “look into” corruption allegations against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. The call also included Trump’s request to look into alleged Ukrainian 2016 election interference.
In a January 2017 report, Politico’s Kenneth Vogel and David Stern, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter, reported that the Ukrainian government attempted to “help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump” in 2016.
“Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country,” Vogel and Stern reported. “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.”
“The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia,” Vogel and Stern wrote.
Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose contact with Ukraine is at the center of the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, recently met with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has accused his own government of colluding with the Democrats against Trump.
“While Congress heard closed-door testimony last week about President Donald Trump pushing Ukraine to investigate his opponents, Rudy Giuliani was holding his own private Ukraine meeting in his Manhattan office,” NBC News reported Monday. Giuliani “met with former Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Telizhenko, who alleges that Ukraine’s government conspired with the Democratic National Committee to hurt Trump in 2016.”
“We discussed what’s happening in Ukraine, political updates, what the new (Ukrainian presidential) team is up to, what are the reforms going to be,” Telizhenko told NBC News.
“Giuliani has interviewed him for hours about his Ukraine allegations, although Telizhenko said their most recent meeting wasn’t focused on investigations,” the network reports. The two met several times in the past, including in May, August, and September, the network notes.
The meeting, NBC suggests, is evidence that Trump’s team is moving ahead with their “campaign to get Ukraine to investigate Trump’s political opponents.”
Though the left-leaning media has painted Trump’s request for Ukraine to “look into” the corruption allegations involving the Bidens as attempting to “dig up dirt” on his political opponent, as NPR detailed, credible accusations of corruption against the Bidens date back to 2014 and stem from the Bidens’ highly problematic roles in Ukraine that strongly suggest conflicts of interest. NPR reports:
In the spring of 2014, as Joe Biden began his trips to Ukraine, Hunter Biden took a position on the board of the country’s largest private gas company, Burisma. He was reportedly paid up to $50,000 a month.
The question of a possible conflict of interest — with Hunter Biden profiting in a country where his father was actively working with the government — was raised publicly at the time.
Biden famously boasted last year at the Council on Foreign Relations about forcing Ukraine to remove the prosecutor who had looked into Burisma. “I said, ‘You’re not getting the [$1 billion]. I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a b****. He got fired,” said Biden.
As Politico’s 2017 report indicates, Trump’s concern over alleged Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election is also well-founded. Some Ukrainian politicians agree that the issue needs to be looked into, including Ukraine’s president. In October, President Zelensky announced that his government is “ready to investigate Ukraine’s alleged meddling in the U.S. elections,” referencing the 2016 election.
As reported by NBC, a group of Ukrainian parliamentarians are “working to stand up a new investigative commission — the Ukrainian analogue to a congressional select committee — to probe what they say was a Ukrainian government campaign to smear former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in a bid to take down Trump in 2016.”
The group also wants to investigate the Bidens’ alleged corruption.
“Ukraine was involved in like the biggest scandal in recent U.S. political history, let alone Ukrainian. Definitely most of my colleagues here pretend it doesn’t exist,” said lawmaker Oleg Voloshin, who is also an associate of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, NBC reports. “It started here, and it should finish here.”
During his July 25 call with Zelensky, Trump asked for a “favor”: to look into “this whole situation with Ukraine” in 2016, including the role played by Ukrainian-based cybersecurity company Crowdstrike, which the Democratic National Committee used to review the hacking of its emails.
“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,” Trump told Zelensky. “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.”