(4 Oct 2019) Top US diplomats encouraged Ukraine’s newly elected president to conduct an investigation linked to Joe Biden’s family in return for a high-profile visit with President Donald Trump.
It soon escalated into what one diplomat feared was a “crazy” swap that risked vital US military aid.
That’s according to a cache of text messages released late Thursday by House investigators following a 10-hour interview with one of the diplomats, Kurt Volker, who stepped down as special envoy to Ukraine amid the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
The pages lay out the raw contours of a potential quid-pro-quo exchange – Trump gets his political investigation of a top Democratic rival in return for granting a favor to Ukraine.
The text messages convey a distinct campaign among the three diplomats, who – apparently against some of their stated better judgment – appear to be trying to help Ukraine reset its relationship with Trump by pushing his interest in investigating his Democratic rival and the 2016 election.
The other ambassadors are William “Bill” Taylor, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Ukraine, and Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union.
House Democrats launched the impeachment inquiry over the Ukraine matter after a government whistleblower disclosed Trump’s call with Zelenskiy and the push to have a foreign government interfere in US elections by digging up dirt on Biden.
As a Democratic frontrunner, Biden could be Trump’s opponent in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have tried, without evidence, to implicate Biden and his son Hunter in the kind of corruption that has long plagued Ukraine.
Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv.
Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by either the former vice president or his son.
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