Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during talks with journalists in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
OAN Newsroom UPDATED 11:07 AM PT — Sunday, February 16, 2020
Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky said he’s ready for his next phone call with President Trump. During an interview with CNN Friday, he stated he’s willing to speak with the United States President again if it will help Ukraine.
Zelensky’s’ phone call with President Trump last year was at the center of the impeachment probe after a whistle-blower alleged the U.S. president of pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, walks after inauguration ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, May 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
However, Zelensky denied this and thanked everyone in America for supporting Ukraine.
“If this way will help Ukraine I am ready for next call with Mr. Trump…” stated the Ukrainian president. “…I want to thank you guys and thank everybody and thank USA and just ordinary American people, first of all, for support of Ukraine.”
Zelensky said he’s trying to set up a White House meeting, which he wants to be special with positive outcomes for both countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky arrive for a joint news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday Jan. 31, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Pool via AP)
OAN Newsroom UPDATED 7:40 PM PT — Thursday, February 6, 2020
Members of Ukrainian parliament are saying bilateral ties with the U.S. remain uncertain, despite the acquittal of President Trump. On Thursday, Ukrainian lawmakers expressed hope for sensible and businesslike relations with the U.S.
They said ties between the two countries must focus on diplomatic partnership. The MPs also denounced extreme partisanship on Capitol Hill and called out attempts by some U.S. lawmakers to politicize foreign relations.
Officials added the U.S. should develop a coherent bipartisan approach to its foreign policies.
“Ukraine does view the United States as our partner,” stated MP Inna Sovsun. “We do expect that the situation in Washington D.C. around the impeachment will not influence and will not change the bipartisan support that Ukraine has been receiving in the past few years in fighting the Russian aggression in the east and in Crimea.”
Ukrainian lawmakers also said recent headlines have tarnished the image of their country abroad and were a “major disappointment.”
House Democrats move to draft articles of impeachment; reaction and analysis from Fox News contributors Richard Fowler and Rachel Campos-Duffy.
The GOP chairmen of the Senate committees that would be involved in an impeachment trial are seeking records and interviews related to allegations that a Democratic National Committee consultant solicited derogatory information about the Trump campaign from Ukrainian embassy officials ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
In a news release Friday, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said they are looking to obtain records and transcribed staff interviews with two individuals reportedly involved in an effort by Ukrainian embassy officials to “undermine” the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.
“To believe that the mainstream media will investigate all things Russia or Ukraine is to hope against hope,” Graham said in a statement Friday. “The hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails was done by the Russians and no one else. Whether there’s a connection between Democratic operatives and Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election has yet to be determined.”
He added: “It will only be found by looking. We intend to look.”
The requests from Grassley, Graham and Johnson come as House Democrats are entering what may be the final phase of their impeachment inquiry ahead of introducing articles of impeachment for a vote. Should the House approve impeachment articles and trigger a trial in the Senate, Republicans plan to turn the tables on Democrats, by looking more closely at issues that House Democrats glossed over during their hearings.
Friday’s requests are a continuation of an inquiry that Grassley launched in 2017 when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Grassley, at the time, was questioning the actions of then-DNC consultant Alexandra Chalupa, which he said seemed to show that she was “simultaneously working on behalf of a foreign government, Ukraine, and on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, in an effort to influence not only the U.S. voting population but U.S. government officials.”
Chalupa has denied the accusations: “For the record: I have never worked for a foreign government. I have never been to Ukraine. I was not an opposition researcher. In 2008, I knew Manafort worked for Putin’s interests in Ukraine. I reported my concerns about him to the NSC in 2014 & sounded the alarm bells in 2016,” Chalupa tweeted last month.
In addition to the interview and records requests, Johnson, Grassley and Graham are requesting “staff-led transcribed interviews” with Chalupa, and Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer within the Ukrainian embassy at the time. Telizhenko reportedly was ordered to assist in an off-the-books investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, which included then-Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort’s prior business dealings in the region.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Friday blasted the latest GOP efforts, saying it "undermines our democracy."
“Putin and his intelligence services disinformation campaign team in Moscow couldn't have cooked up a more useful tool for spreading conjured and baseless conspiracy theories than the one Chairmen Graham, Grassley and Johnson announced today," Schumer said in a statement.
Last month, Johnson and Grassley also requested information from the National Archives and Records Administration regarding meetings that took place in 2016 involving Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and Democratic National Committee officials. They also requested Justice Department records related to the FBI’s interactions with Chalupa.
The Republicans emphasized Friday that their interest in Ukraine does not mean they deny Russia's meddling in 2016.
“The senators’ inquiries are unrelated to an uncorroborated theory that Ukraine was also behind the hack of the DNC servers,” the statement from the senators said. “U.S. intelligence officials and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found that Russia was responsible for the DNC hack.”
The three senators have also recently requested information related to potential conflicts of interest and political influence by Ukraine, including the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, which employed former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, on the board. At the time, the elder Biden was running U.S.-Ukraine relations and policy for the Obama administration.
And Graham, last month, alone, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and to a meeting between son Hunter Biden’s business partner and former Secretary of State John Kerry.
This pertains to questions surrounding the elder Biden’s role in pressing for the ouster of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been investigating the founder of Burisma. Biden denies any wrongdoing, but Republicans have pressed for details throughout the impeachment process, in a bid to show that even though President Trump’s pressure campaign on Kiev triggered the impeachment inquiry, his concern was legitimate.
At the center of the impeachment inquiry, which began in September, is Trump’s July 25 phone call with Kiev. That call prompted the whistleblower complaint to the intelligence community inspector general, and in turn, the impeachment inquiry in the House. Trump challenged the accuracy of the complaint, though the transcript released by the White House did support the core allegations that he pressed for politically related investigations.
The president’s request came after millions in U.S. military aid to Ukraine had been frozen, which Democrats and witnesses have claimed shows a "quid pro quo" arrangement. Trump denies any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Trump challenged House Democrats this week to impeach him "fast" so that he can have a "fair trial" in the Senate. He also threatened to seek testimony from the Bidens, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi, D-Calif., then dramatically called for the House to proceed with drafting articles of impeachment.
"The facts are uncontested. The president abused his power," Pelosi said.
But despite his threats, the president does not, alone, have the power to call witnesses to testify in those proceedings. In the Senate trial, three separate parties have input to how it will play out: Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House.
A senior Senate Republican aide told Fox News last month that once they receive articles of impeachment, they will begin working on two resolutions — one that governs the timeline of the trial, and the other that sets up witnesses for closed-door depositions, as well as which witnesses will be required to testify on the stand.
The aide suggested that Republican senators – like Graham, Johnson, and Grassley – could be attempting to help “shape” the witness list and the trial in their recent attempts to obtain documents and information from the administration and companies related to Hunter Biden.
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Republican Devin Nunes makes his opening statement during the first public impeachment hearing.
House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., kicked off the first public hearing of the Trump impeachment inquiry Wednesday by dismissing the allegations as a "carefully orchestrated smear campaign" and a "low-rent" follow-up to the Russia investigation, which failed to produce evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.
Nunes addressed Wednesday's witnesses, Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor and State Department official George Kent, stating that they are being used in a "televised theatrical performance staged by the Democrats," after accusing Democrats of selecting witnesses "deemed suitable for television" and auditioning them during the closed-door sessions at the beginning of the inquiry.
"It seems you agreed witting or unwittingly to participate in a drama, but the main performance, the Russia hoax, has ended and you’ve been cast in the low-rent Ukrainian sequel," Nunes said during his opening statement.
The Republican leader expressed cynicism toward the allegations that President Trump pressured Ukraine into investigating Democratic activities during the 2016 election, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
"We're supposed to take these people at face value when they trot out with a new batch of allegations," he said, "but anyone familiar with the Democrats' scorched-earth war against President Trump would not be surprised to see all the typical signs that this is a carefully orchestrated media smear campaign."
Nunes said that while Democrats have accused Trump of improper activity involving Russia and Ukraine, the Democrats themselves are the ones who are guilty.
"For years they accused the Trump campaign of colluding with Russia when they themselves were colluding with Russia by funding and spreading the Steele dossier, which relied on Russian sources," he said. "And now they accuse President Trump of malfeasance in Ukraine when they themselves are culpable."
Nunes concluded by maintaining the president's innocence and insisting the ongoing inquiry is "nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime."
Nunes' statement followed one from Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.. Schiff outlined the parameters of the impeachment inquiry, questioning whether the president sought to condition official acts and "exploit" Ukraine's "vulnerability" for personal political gain.
"The matter is as simple and as terrible as that," Schiff said in his opening statement Wednesday. "Our answer to these questions will affect not only the future of this presidency but the future of the presidency itself, and what kind of conduct or misconduct the American people may come to expect from their commander in chief."
Schiff described the core of the impeachment inquiry, and said: "If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
Washington awaits high-stakes public hearings in impeachment inquiry; reaction and analysis from the 'Special Report' All-Stars.
Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday defending the president against allegations of wrongdoing in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that led to an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives.
Giuliani wrote that Trump’s call with Zelensky was “innocent” and “proper,” and Trump was simply asking him to investigate “allegations of corruption at the highest levels of both governments” when he suggested Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden's activities in the country.
He said the push for Zelensky to investigate was simply an “exercise of Mr. Trump’s responsibility as U.S. president.”
Giuliani wrote that Trump and Zelensky discussed alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, including documents related to Paul Manafort released by a Ukrainian lawmaker and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau that were purportedly meant to hurt Trump’s candidacy.
He added that Trump “briefly” brought up the Bidens’ conduct regarding the Ukrainian oil company Burisma, where Hunter Biden served on the board, and said he thinks the former vice president should be investigated for bribery over allegations of a $900,000 transfer from Burisma to a lobbying firm owned by Hunter Biden “and at the very least both Bidens’ behavior deserves serious scrutiny.”
Giuliani said Trump’s words during the phone call were free of “threat or coercion” and noted that Zelensky said publicly that he didn’t feel any pressure to investigate the Bidens.
“[O]ut of a five-page transcript Mr. Trump spent only six lines on Joe Biden,” Giuliani added.
He wrote that the left’s inability to accept Trump's 2016 win and "fear" of his policies have pushed Democrats into a “frenzy” and the "double standard" of the impeachment inquiry.
Questions continue to mount on Rudy Giuliani’s role in the Biden-Ukraine probe. Fox News’ Kevin Corke reports from Capitol Hill.
Rudy Giuliani on Monday blasted a former Ukrainian prosecutor who pushed back on calls to investigate the Biden family, saying he "corruptly" dismissed a case involving a company where Joe Biden's son served on the board and decrying the media outlets that quoted him.
“I can’t believe how blind our media has become. They are blindly using the prosecutor who corruptly dismissed the cases against Biden’s son and his corrupt company. There was no investigation. Where’s the report?” Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney, tweeted early Monday. “Use your common sense for those who haven’t lost it. Analyze it.”
Giuliani added: “Bribery is offering anything of value ($1.2 billion critical loan guarantee) in exchange for official action (firing the prosecutor, corrupt or not, who is investigating your son).”
“Bragging Biden admits it,” he continued.” And if you need help on whether he knew about son, plenty to come.”
Giuliani’s tweets are part of a blizzard of statements from Trump's attorney as he defends his role in seeking an investigation of the Biden family's Ukraine dealings. Trump's role in pressing Ukraine to "look into" that issue prompted a full-blown impeachment inquiry last week.
Adding to the firestorm, former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuri Lutsenko told the Los Angeles Times that he saw no reason to investigate Biden or his son Hunter. Lutsenko said he told Giuliani that the Bidens had not broken any Ukrainian laws to his knowledge and that he would start a probe only after U.S. officials launched their own investigation.
“I said, ‘Let’s put this through prosecutors, not through presidents,’” Lutsenko told The Times. “I told him I could not start an investigation just for the interests of an American official.”
Prosecutor-general of Ukraine Yuri Lutsenko attends a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, May 30, 2016. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich – D1BETHAMTIAA
Lutsenko was referring to the highly controversial phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July when Trump sought an investigation into the Bidens.
“I had to tell him how law enforcement functions here,” Lutsenko said, noting that he could not reopen the case just because Trump wanted it.
Lutsenko has reportedly met with Giuliani twice in person. He told the Times that Giuliani was obsessed with potential misconduct by Biden or his son. Lutsenko reportedly told Giuliani that Hunter Biden’s role while his father was the vice president “could be signs of a conflict of interest” but was not illegal.
According to the Times, Giuliani stopped contacting Lutsenko last year, but upon the election of Zelensky, he began contacting him again. Lutsenko was removed from his post in August.
Biden has acknowledged that when he was vice president, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire prosecutor Viktor Shokin who was investigating the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings—where his son Hunter Biden had a highly lucrative role on the board, making tens of thousands of dollars per month. The former vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion of critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.
“Well, son of a b—h, he got fired,” Biden joked at a panel two years after leaving office.
Biden allies maintain he pressured Shokin because of concerns he went easy on corruption. Critics charged that Hunter Biden may have been selling access to his father, who had pushed Ukraine to increase its natural gas production.
Meanwhile, as Giuliani criticized the media for “using” Lutsenko, the Biden campaign has blasted media outlets for giving Giuliani air time. The campaign wrote to NBC News, CBS News, Fox News and CNN to voice “grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump.”