“As Donald Trump began his meteoric rise to the presidency, the Obama White House summoned Ukrainian authorities to Washington to coordinate ongoing anti-corruption efforts inside Russia’s most critical neighbor.
The January 2016 gathering, confirmed by multiple participants and contemporaneous memos, brought some of Ukraine’s top corruption prosecutors and investigators face to face with members of former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ).
The agenda suggested the purpose was training and coordination. But Ukrainian participants said it didn’t take long — during the meetings and afterward — to realize the Americans’ objectives included two politically hot investigations: one that touched Vice President Joe Biden’s family and one that involved a lobbying firm linked closely to then-candidate Trump.
U.S. officials “kept talking about how important it was that all of our anti-corruption efforts be united,” said Andrii Telizhenko, then a political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington tasked with organizing the meeting.
Telizhenko, who no longer works for the Ukrainian Embassy, said U.S. officials volunteered during the meetings — one of which was held in the White House’s Old Executive Office Building — that they had an interest in reviving a closed investigation into payments to U.S. figures from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions.
(…) Telizhenko said he couldn’t remember whether Manafort was mentioned during the January 2016 meeting. But he and other attendees recalled DOJ officials asking investigators from Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) if they could help locate new evidence about the Party of Regions’ payments and its dealings with Americans.
“It was definitely the case that led to the charges against Manafort and the leak to U.S. media during the 2016 election,” he said.
That makes the January 2016 meeting one of the earliest documented efforts to build the now-debunked Trump-Russia collusion narrative and one of the first to involve the Obama administration’s intervention.” (Read more: The Hill, 4/25/2019) (Archive)