[guest post by Dana]
President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.
“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” if his lawyer’s assertions that Mr. Biden acted improperly as vice president were true, one of the people said. Mr. Trump didn’t mention a provision of U.S. aid to Ukraine on the call, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation.
Mr. Giuliani in June and August met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation, he said in an interview. The Trump lawyer has suggested Mr. Biden as vice president worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden. A Ukrainian official earlier this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.
The surprise in this story is that he supposedly didn’t threaten to withhold the $250 million in military aid that Ukraine had been promised if President Zelensky refused to reopen the Biden probe, at least as far as the Journal’s sources know. But of course Zelensky knew that that money hadn’t been approved yet by the White House when he and Trump had their phone call. And Trump knew that he knew. If you’re waiting on a life-and-death loan from the bank and the head of the bank calls you up asking for a personal favor, does he need to literally say the words “do it or you won’t get your loan” for you to understand the consequences if you decline?
Interestingly, neither the White House, nor Joe Biden have commented on this. Further, President Trump is scheduled to meet with Zelensky next week.
This from the Daily Beast:
Ukraine is ready to investigate the connections Joe Biden’s son Hunter had with the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings, according to Anton Geraschenko, a senior adviser to the country’s interior minister who would oversee such an inquiry.
Geraschenko told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview that “as soon as there is an official request” Ukraine will look into the case, but “currently there is no open investigation.”
“Clearly,” said Geraschenko, “Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.” Among the counts on which Manafort was convicted: tax evasion. “We do not investigate Biden in Ukraine, since we have not received a single official request to do so,” said Geraschenko.
And I’ll just throw this up here for kicks:
WATCH: Rudy Giuliani denies that he asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, before admitting to Chris Cuomo seconds later: "Of course I did!" pic.twitter.com/flcierpKGu
— Axios (@axios) September 20, 2019
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)