And in less than 24 hours after Donald Trump stands on the south lawn of the White House and demands Ukraine investigate Joe Biden, the former Soviet republic moves to make Trump happy.
Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor said Friday his office will conduct an “audit” of an investigation into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that had recruited Hunter Biden for its board.
A criminal probe of the company was closed in 2016, and President Trump has alleged it was because of pressure by Hunter Biden’s father, then-Vice President Joe Biden. Trump has insisted that Ukraine open a new investigation.
Ukrainian officials said previously that the probe was focused on the years 2010 to 2012, before the younger Biden joined the board. They also have said that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.
Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka reiterated at a news conference Friday that he knows of no evidence of criminal activity by Biden.
He said that he is aware of at least 15 investigations that may have touched on Burisma, its owner Nikolai Zlochevsky, an associate named Serhiy Zerchenko, and Biden, and that all will be reviewed. He said no foreign or Ukrainian official has been in touch with him to request this audit.
The audit does not mark a reopening of the investigation, but it could buy Ukraine some time in dealing with the White House, analysts said.
But it should get Trump off their backs. Meanwhile, we've absolutely discovered the quid pro quo in a series of devastating text messages involving US special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, who has come forward with the goods.
House investigators released numerous text messages late Thursday night illustrating how senior State Department officials coordinated with the Ukrainian president’s top aide and President Trump’s personal lawyer to leverage a potential summit between the heads of state on a promise from the Ukrainians to investigate the 2016 U.S. election and an energy company that employed the son of 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
The texts, which former special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker provided investigators during a nearly 10-hour deposition Thursday, reveal that officials felt Trump would not agree to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky unless Zelensky promised to launch the investigations — and did so publicly.
Although the texts do not mention Biden by name, congressional Democrats leading an impeachment inquiry are pointing to them as clear evidence that Trump conditioned normal bilateral relations with Ukraine on that country first agreeing “to launch politically motivated investigations,” top Democrats said in statement Thursday night.
“heard from White House — assuming President Z convinces trump he will investigate / ‘get to the bottom of what happened’ in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to Washington,” Volker texted Zelensky’s aide, Andrey Yermak, on July 25, hours before Trump and the Ukrainian president spoke via phone. The rough transcript of that conversation was released by the White House last week.
Yet two weeks after that call, the president still had not agreed to meet with Zelensky — and administration officials sought to convince the Ukrainians that Trump would need a public pledge before agreeing to the meeting, according to the text messages.
“I think potus really wants the deliverable,” U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland texted to Volker on Aug. 9, noting that Zelensky might give a news conference announcing his intent to investigate. “To avoid misunderstandings, might be helpful to ask Andrey for a draft statement (embargoed) so that we can see exactly what they propose to cover.”
By the next day, the Ukrainians had agreed to announce their plans to carry out Trump’s investigations alongside the date for a meeting between the two heads of state, the messages indicate.
“Once we have a date, will call for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for the reboot of US-UKRAINE relationship, including among other things Burisma and election meddling in investigations,” Yermak texted Volker on Aug. 10. Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son, sat on the board of Burisma for five years.
But Trump never committed to a meeting. And as the United States resisted giving Zelensky an audience with Trump, administration officials’ discussions suggest the White House was issuing an escalating series of demands.
“Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations?” U.S. Charges D’affaires in Ukraine William B. “Bill” Taylor texted to Sondland on Sept. 1, after Trump skipped a trip to Poland where he was meant to visit with Zelensky. Sondland swiftly moved the conversation from text messages to a phone call.
And that's exactly what happened. The deal to push Ukrainian President Zelensky for dirt on Biden in exchange for a face-to-face meeting with Trump in Washington was in the works before the July 25th call and the texts make that painfully clear.
The story isn't about Biden.
It's about Trump selling out the country to win an election.