Former Zelensky adviser: Ukraine 'understood' discussing Biden was condition for talking to Trump

A former adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was made obvious to Ukrainian officials that President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Bombshell Afghanistan report bolsters calls for end to 'forever wars' Lawmakers dismiss Chinese retaliatory threat to US tech MORE would communicate with them only if they agreed to discuss former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Trump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles MORE’s son Hunter Biden, ABC News reported on Wednesday.

"Ukrainian officials were asking for a meeting with Trump for along time. As I remember, it was a clear fact that Trump wants to meet only if Biden case will be included," said Serhiy Leshchenko, an anti-corruption advocate and former member of Ukraine's parliament, told ABC. "This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood."

Leshchenko, however, later disputed ABC's characterization of his remarks, saying he only learned of any quid pro quo arrangement with the White House through media reports.

ADVERTISEMENT

The White House on Wednesday released notes summarizing a call between the two leaders in which Trump encouraged Zelensky to collaborate with both his personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Giuliani: Trump asked me to brief Justice Department, GOP lawmakers on Ukraine trip The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - Democrats to release articles of impeachment today MORE and Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrHillicon Valley: Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling | Tech legal shield makes it into trade deal | Impeachment controversy over phone records heats up | TikTok chief cancels Capitol Hill meetings Giuliani: Trump asked me to brief Justice Department, GOP lawmakers on Ukraine trip Apple, Facebook defend encryption during Senate grilling MORE on investigating whether Joe Biden influenced the firing of then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

The call is the subject of a whistleblower complaint released to Congress on Wednesday, and it prompted House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump trade deal likely to sow division in Democratic presidential field Trump supporters at Pa. rally 'upset' after Democrats introduce impeachment articles California GOP candidate arrested on stalking charges MORE (D-Calif.) to announce the House would begin an impeachment inquiry Tuesday.

Leshchenko told ABC News that in Ukraine, the proposed investigation was encouraged by Shokin’s successor, Yuri Lutsenko, who Leshchenko said sought out Giuliani to seek protection from the U.S. because he was concerned Zelensky would dismiss him as prosecutor general.

"We understood that he was just trying to protect his position in the new administration using this scandal," Leshchenko said. "And he put Ukraine on this battlefield."

Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko told ABC that to his knowledge, no request for an investigation had been made through formal channels.

“If there will be a request from the American side, we’ll look at it,” he said.  

—Updated Friday at 11:09 a.m.