Serhiy Leshchenko

December 2015 – November 2016: Ukrainian lawmaker, Serhiy Leshchenko, is a Fusion GPS source during the 2016 campaign

Serhiy Leshchenko (Credit: The Associated Press)

“A member of the Ukrainian parliament accused in his home country of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was identified in congressional testimony in October as a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Ohr, whose husband is Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, testified that she was not aware of Leshchenko’s source information, but that she knew he was providing information to Fusion GPS, where she worked between late 2015 and the 2016 election.

(…) Nellie Ohr did not describe the Leshchenko-Fusion GPS source relationship in greater detail, so it is not clear whether the Ukrainian lawmaker was paid, how he transmitted information to Fusion or with whom at the firm he maintained contact.

(…) Nellie Ohr testified that Leshchenko also provided Fusion GPS with information on Manafort.

Leshchenko, a member of Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, is widely credited with publishing a so-called “black ledger” that purported to show that Manafort received $12.7 million in illicit cash payments through 2012 from then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort worked as a public relations consultant for Yanukovych and his political party from 2004 through 2014, when Yanukovych was forced out of office.

Leshchenko was a prominent media presence during and after the 2016 campaign, leveling allegations against Manafort and making it clear that he sought to portray Trump as a “pro-Russian candidate.”

“A Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy,” Leshchenko told the Financial Times days after publicizing the black ledger on Aug. 14, 2016. “For me, it was important to show not only the corruption aspect, but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world.”

Ironically, given Fusion GPS’s investigation of Russian meddling in the election, Leshchenko himself was found to have illegally interfered in the 2016 election. (Read more: The Daily Caller, 2/06/2019)

March 19, 2015 – Ukrainian oligarch, Victor Pinchuk’s ties to Serhiy Leshchenko and the Clintons

On April 11, 2019, Greg Craig, Obama’s former White House counsel and a partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, was indicted for lying about and concealing his work in Ukraine. Craig, who reportedly worked closely with Manafort, was paid more than $4 million to produce an “independent” report justifying Ukraine’s trial and conviction of the former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko. Notably, Craig’s name was not included in the “Black Ledger” leak from Leshchenko and Sytnyk.

The indictment notes that “a wealthy private Ukrainian” was fully funding the report. In a recent YouTube video, Craig publicly stated that “it was Doug Schoen who brought this project to me, and he told me he was acting on behalf of Victor Pinchuk, who was a pro-western, Ukrainian businessman who helped to fund the project.”

“The Firm understood that its work was to be largely funded by Victor Pinchuk,” Skadden wrote in recent FARA filings.

Pinchuk put out a statement on Jan. 21, denying any financial involvement:

“Mr. Pinchuk was not the source of any funds used to pay fees of Skadden in producing their report into the trial and conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko. He was in no way responsible for those costs. Neither Mr. Pinchuk nor companies affiliated with him have ever been a client of Skadden. Mr. Pinchuk and his team had no role in the work done by Skadden, including in the preparation or dissemination of the Skadden report.”

Pinchuk is the founder of Interpipe, a steel pipe manufacturer. He owns Credit Dnipro Bank, several ferroalloy plants and a media empire. He is married to Elena Pinchuk, the daughter of former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.

Pinchuk has been accused of profiting immensely from the purchase of state-owned assets at severely below-market prices through political favoritism.

Between April 4 and April 12, 2016, Ukrainian parliamentarian Olga Bielkova had four meetings, with Samuel Charap (International Institute for Strategic Studies), Liz Zentos (National Security Council), Michael Kimmage (State Department), and David Kramer (McCain Institute).

FARA documents filed by Schoen showed that he was paid $40,000 a month by Pinchuk (page 5)—in part to arrange these meetings.

Schoen attempted to arrange another 72 meetings with congressmen and media (page 10). It’s unknown how many of these meetings, if any, took place.

In September 2013, Pinchuk pays Clinton to appear at a YES event promoting Ukrainian membership of the European Union, break with Russia, and regime change in Kiev and Moscow. (Credit: Pinchuk Foundation)

Schoen also helped Pinchuk establish ties with the Clinton Foundation. The Wall Street Journal reported on March 19, 2015, how Schoen connected Pinchuk with senior Clinton State Department staffers in order to pressure former Ukrainian President Yanukovych to release Tymoshenko–a political rival of Yanukovych–from jail. And the relationship between Pinchuk and the Clintons continued. According to the Kyiv Post:

“Clinton and her husband Bill, the 42nd U.S. president, have been paid speakers at the annual YES and other Pinchuk events. They describe themselves as friends of Pinchuk, who is known internationally as a businessman and philanthropist.”

Although exact numbers aren’t clear, reports filed by the Clinton Foundation indicate that as much as $25 million of Pinchuk’s donations went to the Clinton organization.

Pinchuk also has ties to Leshchenko, the Ukrainian MP who leaked the information on Manafort. Leshchenko had been a frequent speaker at the Ukrainian Breakfast, a traditional private event held at Davos, Switzerland, and hosted by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and has also been pictured with Pinchuk at multiple other events.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 4/26/2019)

October 14, 2014 – The National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) is formed in Ukraine, with Joe Biden and the FBI’s help

(…) “Following the successful overthrow of Yanukovych, Joe Biden had a direct hand in the formation of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), as he personally “pushed for the creation of an independent anti-corruption bureau to combat graft,” according to an Oct. 30, 2016, article by Foreign Policy.

NABU was formally established in October 2014 in response to pressure from not only the U.S. State Department and Biden, but also by the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

FBI instructors train NABU special forces in SWAT tactics in July 2016. (Credit: public domain)

Despite the international push, the fledgling anti-corruption unit took more than a year to actually become a functioning unit. During this time, NABU officials began establishing a relationship with the FBI. In early 2016, NABU Director Sytnyk announced that his bureau was very close to signing a memorandum of cooperation with the FBI and by February 2016, the FBI had a permanent representative onsite at the NABU offices.

On June 5, 2016, Sytnyk met with U.S. Ambassador Pyatt to discuss a more formalized relationship with the FBI and, on June 30, 2016, NABU and the FBI entered into a memorandum of understanding that allowed for an FBI office onsite at NABU offices to focus on international money laundering cases. The relationship was renewed for an additional two years in June 2017.

NABU has repeatedly refused to make the memorandum of understanding with the FBI public and went to court in 2018 to prevent its release. After receiving an unfavorable opinion from the Kyiv District Administrative Court, NABU appealed the ruling, which was overturned in its favor by the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal.

Sytnyk, along with parliamentarian Leshchenko, became the subject of an investigation in Ukraine and in December 2018, a Kyiv court ruled that both men “acted illegally when they revealed that Manafort’s surname and signature were found in the so-called black ledger of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions,” the Kyiv Post reported on Dec. 12, 2018.

The court noted the material was part of a pre-trial investigation and its release “led to interference in the electoral processes of the United States in 2016 and harmed the interests of Ukraine as a state.”

Leshchenko had publicly adopted a strong anti-Trump stance, telling the Financial Times in August 2016 that “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy” and that it was “important to show not only the corruption aspect but that he is [a] pro-Russian candidate who can break the geopolitical balance in the world.” Leschenko noted that the majority of Ukrainian politicians were “on Hillary Clinton’s side.”

In December 2017, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Lutsenko accused Sytnyk of allowing the FBI to conduct illegal operations in Ukraine, claiming that the “U.S. law enforcers were allegedly invited without the permission required and in breach of the necessary procedures.” Lutsenko continued by asking, “Who actually let the foreign special service act in Ukraine?”

Taras Chornovil, a Ukrainian political analyst, also questioned the FBI’s activities, writing that “some kind of undercover operations are being conducted in Ukraine with direct participation (or even under control) of the FBI. This means the FBI operatives could have access to classified data or confidential information.”

Lutsenko called for an audit of NABU, claiming to “possess information of interest to the auditors” and was pushing for Sytnyk’s resignation, along with that of Nazar Kholodnitskiy, the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP). According to reporting by Euromaidan Press, Lutsenko’s efforts failed “thanks to the reaction from Ukraine’s American partners.”

Michael Carpenter, an adviser to Joe Biden, personally issued a public warning to Lutsenko and others pushing for Sytnyk’s removal, stating, “If the Rada votes to dismiss the head of the Anticorruption Committee and the head of the NABU, I will recommend cutting all U.S. government assistance to #Ukraine, including security assistance.”

Sytnyk remains in his position as NABU’s director.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 4/26/2019)