Report: Former Ukrainian Official Says ‘It Was Clear’ Biden Inquiry Was Precondition To Trump Phone Call
A former adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed this week that it was widely understood any phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump would require them to provide assurances that an investigation into Joe Biden would take place.
Serhiy Leshchenko, a former adviser to Zelensky and an anti-corruption advocate within Ukraine, is no longer part of that nation’s executive department. But he said that, for several weeks after Zelensky took office earlier this year, the new administration wanted to coordinate a phone call with Trump — and that, through conversations with Washington, it was clear the only way to do so was to start an inquiry into the U.S. president’s political rival.
“It was clear that Trump will only have communications if they will discuss the Biden case. This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood,” Leshchenko said, per reporting from ABC News.
Zelensky adviser says Biden case was precondition to Trump phone call https://t.co/Wp3S3RJnud
— Dan Rodricks, News Guild, Baltimore Sun (@DanRodricks) September 26, 2019
Others have asserted, however, that ABC News’ report regarding Leshchenko is incorrect.
Leshchekno “said he DID NOT tell ABC insistence for leaders to discuss Biden probe was precondition for call,” reported Radio Free Europe’s Christopher Miller on Twitter.
The allegations levied against Biden, who is vying to become the Democratic Party’s nominee to run against Trump in 2020, involve his efforts to pressure the Ukraine government to remove its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, years ago. Shokin alleged earlier this year that Biden had a conflict of interest — Shokin had previously investigated a company called Burisma Holdings, which his son, Hunter Biden, had a stake in.
But those assertions by Shokin are questionable. Several international leaders, including European Union member countries and the International Monetary Fund, had also called for Shokin to be removed, due to blatant and obvious acts of corruption and obstruction of investigations in the previous Ukraine administration.
Additionally, by the time Biden had joined the call for Shokin’s ouster, the investigation into Burisma had long been finished, another former Ukraine official, who alleges no conflicts of interest on Biden’s part exist, pointed out in May.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration released a memorandum (but not an actual transcript) detailing the phone call with Zelensky. In the memo, Trump requested that Ukraine open an inquiry on Biden, and asked Zelensky to coordinate with Attorney General William Barr and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, per prior reporting from HillReporter.com.
Trump also reminded Zelensky that “we do a lot for Ukraine” in the same conversation.
The revelation of the conversation’s contents, detailing the pressure put on Ukraine by the administration to investigate a political rival, led to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to endorse and announce impeachment proceedings against the president.