“Earlier this month, during a bipartisan meeting in Kiev, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) delivered a pointed message to Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
While choosing his words carefully, Murphy made clear — by his own account — that Ukraine currently enjoyed bipartisan support for its U.S. aid but that could be jeopardized if the new president acquiesced to requests by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani to investigate past corruption allegations involving Americans, including former Vice President Joe Biden’s family.
Murphy boasted after the meeting that he told the new Ukrainian leader that U.S. aid was his country’s “most important asset” and it would be viewed as election meddling and “disastrous for long-term U.S.-Ukraine relations” to bend to the wishes of Trump and Giuliani.
“I told Zelensky that he should not insert himself or his government into American politics. I cautioned him that complying with the demands of the President’s campaign representatives to investigate a political rival of the President would gravely damage the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. There are few things that Republicans and Democrats agree on in Washington these days, and support for Ukraine is one of them,” Murphy told me today, confirming what he told Ukraine’s leader.
The implied message did not require an interpreter for Zelensky to understand: Investigate the Ukraine dealings of Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and you jeopardize Democrats’ support for future U.S. aid to Kiev.
The Murphy anecdote is a powerful reminder that, since at least 2016, Democrats repeatedly have exerted pressure on Ukraine, a key U.S. ally for buffering Russia, to meddle in U.S. politics and elections.
And that activity long preceded Giuliani’s discussions with Ukrainian officials and Trump’s phone call to Zelensky in July, seeking to have Ukraine formally investigate whether then-Vice President Joe Biden used a threat of canceling foreign aid to shut down an investigation into $3 million routed to the U.S. firm run by Biden’s son.
As I have reported, the pressure began at least as early as January 2016, when the Obama White House unexpectedly invited Ukraine’s top prosecutors to Washington to discuss fighting corruption in the country.
The meeting promised as training, turned out to be more of a pretext for the Obama administration to pressure Ukraine’s prosecutors to drop an investigation into the Burisma Holdings gas company that employed Hunter Biden and to look for new evidence in a then-dormant criminal case against eventual Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a GOP lobbyist.
U.S. officials “kept talking about how important it was that all of our anti-corruption efforts be united,” said Andrii Telizhenko, the former political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington who organized and attended the meetings.” (Read more: The Hill, 9/23/2019) (Archive)