Ukrainian Officials Having Trouble Getting the DOJ's Attention on Ukrainian-Democrat 2016 Collusion Efforts
Ukrainian prosecutors say they have uncovered evidence of corruption and wrongdoing by American Democrats, including their involvement with Ukraine's efforts to meddle in the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton, John Solomon reported at the Hill.
The officials claim they have evidence of "contacts between Democratic figures in Washington and Ukrainian officials that involved passing along dirt on Donald Trump," according to Solomon.
Additional evidence includes a Ukrainian natural gas company's suspicious $3 million in payments to American accounts tied to Joe Biden's youngest son, and the then-vice president's efforts to quash the investigation.
Unfortunately, the Trump Justice Department appears to be disinterested in the evidence being offered by the Ukrainians, and it's not clear why. Part of the problem, according to a top Ukrainian official, could be that the U.S. embassy in Kiev has been refusing to provide Ukrainian law enforcement officials with visas so they can deliver their evidence to Washington.
“We were supposed to share this information during a working trip to the United States,” Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Prosecutor General’s International Legal Cooperation Department, told Solomon. “However, the [U.S.] ambassador blocked us from obtaining a visa. She didn’t explicitly deny our visa, but also didn’t give it to us.”
The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine is Marie Louise Yovanovitch, who was appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama in August 2016. State Department officials declined to comment on the question of whether they denied or slow-walked visas for Ukrainian officials. “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases,” a department spokesperson told Solomon.
According to Kulyk, a company with ties to prominent Democrats was allegedly involved with a Ukrainian money-laundering operation. Businessmen friendly to the former pro-Russia regime of Viktor Yanukovych unlawfully moved large amounts of money out of Ukraine to the United States. The payments were authorized "for lobbying efforts directed at the U.S. government,” he told Solomon. “These payments were made from funds that were acquired during the money-laundering operation. We have information that a U.S. company [with ties to Democrats] was involved in these payments.”
Kulyk also told Solomon that Ukrainian authorities have uncovered evidence that during the 2016 election, U.S. officials pressured Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to hide payouts to a certain American Democrat.
“In the course of this investigation, we found that there was a situation during which influence was exerted on the NABU, so that the name of [the American] would not be mentioned,” he said.
In addition to that, according to the report, two Ukrainian officials have admitted in sworn statements that their agency leaked an alleged ledger showing payments to then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort as part of their effort to influence the 2016 election in favor of Hillary Clinton.
DNC operative and Ukrainian-American Alexandra Chalupa was heavily involved in this part of Ukraine's efforts to sabotage Trump.
At some point in 2014, Chalupa began researching Manafort’s ties to Yanukovych for another client. In late 2015, she expanded her opposition research to include Trump’s ties to Russia.
In January of 2016, she informed a senior DNC official that she believed there was a Russia connection with the Trump campaign.
Then, in March of 2016, she met with top officials in the Ukrainian embassy in Washington to expose ties between Trump, Manafort, and Russia.
A few days later, she briefed the DNC's communication staff. Less than a month later, investigative reporter Michael Isikoff published a story on Yahoo News about Manafort’s business dealings with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
The DNC paid Chalupa $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records.
In July of 2017, Senator Charles Grassley (D-Iowa), then the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein expressing concern about Chalupa's actions.
"Chalupa’s actions appear 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," Grassley wrote.
Aside from the apparent evidence of collusion between the DNC, Clinton campaign, and Ukrainian government, Chalupa’s actions implicate the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Chalupa reportedly worked directly with Ukrainian government officials to benefit Ukraine, lobbying Congress on behalf of Ukraine, and worked to undermine the Trump campaign on behalf of Ukraine and the Clinton campaign.
Additional evidence the Ukrainians claim they have, according to Solomon:
Financial records showing a Ukrainian natural gas company routed more than $3 million to American accounts tied to Hunter Biden, younger son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, who managed U.S.-Ukraine relations for the Obama administration. Biden’s son served on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings;
Records that Vice President Biden pressured Ukrainian officials in March 2016 to fire the prosecutor who oversaw an investigation of Burisma Holdings and who planned to interview Hunter Biden about the financial transfers;
Correspondence showing members of the State Department and U.S. Embassy in Kiev interfered or applied pressure in criminal cases on Ukrainian soil;
Disbursements of as much as $7 billion in Ukrainian funds that prosecutors believe may have been misappropriated or taken out of the country, including to the United States.
Ukrainian officials reportedly don’t want to hand their evidence to FBI agents working in Ukraine because they don't trust them. “It is no secret in Ukrainian political circles that the NABU was created with American help and tried to exert influence during the U.S. presidential election,” Kulyk said.
Ukraine's Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko told Solomon that he has enough evidence -- particularly regarding the Biden family's payouts -- to warrant a meeting with U.S. Attorney General William Barr. “I’m looking forward to meeting with the attorney general of the United States in order to start and facilitate our joint investigation regarding the appropriation of another $7 billion in U.S. dollars with Ukrainian legal origin,” Lutsenko said.
As Solomon reported last week, Biden "pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin" in 2016 when he was investigating Burisma.
Ukraine is already investigating that alleged incident, Kulyk confirmed: “We have evidence and witnesses stating that Joe Biden applied pressure on Ukrainian law enforcement to stop the investigation.”
Ukrainians officials have gone public in recent days with their frustrations after months of trying to deliver the evidence quietly to the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) fizzled. Unable to secure visas from the U.S. Embassy, some Ukrainian law enforcement officials sought backdoor channels, Kulyk said.
One of those avenues involved reaching out last fall to a former federal prosecutor from the George W. Bush years, according to interviews. He delivered a written summary of some of the Ukrainian allegations to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, along with an offer to connect U.S. investigators with individuals purporting to have the evidence. There was no response or follow-up, according to multiple people directly familiar with the effort.
More recently, President Trump’s private attorney Rudy Giuliani — former mayor and former U.S. attorney in New York City — learned about some of the allegations while, on behalf of the Trump legal team, he looked into Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election.
Since then, Lutsenko and others have talked with other American lawyers about helping to file U.S. legal action to recover money they believe was wrongly taken from their country.
“It’s like no one at DOJ is listening. There is some compelling evidence that should at least be looked at, evaluated, but the door seems shut at both State and Justice,” said an American who has been contacted for help and briefed on the evidence.
As Solomon notes, the Ukrainian officials' claims are supported by evidence that has emerged in U.S. court filings and intelligence reports, so they should be taken seriously.
Unfortunately, the Trump Justice Department has either been thwarted from pursuing these leads or just isn't interested. Hopefully, Attorney General William Barr will change that.