Democrats press World Bank chief on meeting with Ukrainian president amid Trump pressure

Democrats press World Bank chief on meeting with Ukrainian president amid Trump pressure
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Six House Democrats on Wednesday asked World Bank President David Malpass to explain an August meeting with the Ukrainan president amid President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' MORE’s decision to withhold defense aid from Ukraine.

The lawmakers voiced concerns that Malpass’s meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Aug. 23 in Kyiv could be seen as a part of Trump’s pressure campaign that resulted in his impeachment.

“Even the perception of impropriety by leaders of the Bank has the potential to undermine its core mission —including its critically important work in Ukraine,” wrote Democratic Reps. Denny HeckDennis (Denny) Lynn HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (Wash.), Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesDemocrats debate how and when to get House back in action Democrats get assurances from Cuccinelli on immigrants, coronavirus care Gaetz wears gas mask on House floor during vote on bill to fight coronavirus MORE (Conn.), Ed PerlmutterEdwin (Ed) George PerlmutterEight surprises in House Democrats' T coronavirus relief bill Democrats introduce bill to include cannabis businesses in coronavirus relief Marijuana lobby presses for coronavirus relief funds MORE (Colo.), Juan VargasJuan C. VargasActivists, analysts demand Congress consider immigrants in coronavirus package Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pence taps health official to aid coronavirus response MORE (Calif.), Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonDemocratic lawmaker calls for Peace Corps, Americorps volunteers to be eligible for unemployment benefits Black voters propel Biden to big wins in Virginia, NC, Alabama Biden notches major win in Virginia primary MORE (Va.) and Stephen LynchStephen Francis LynchHouse Democrats object to Trump sending ventilators to Russia Hillicon Valley: House Dems push for B in state election funds | Amazon suspends over 6,000 sellers for price gouging | Google says 18M malicious coronavirus emails sent daily House Democrats push hard for mail-in voting funds MORE (Mass.) in a Wednesday letter

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All six are members of the House Financial Services Committee; Himes and Heck also hold posts on the House Intelligence Committee, which investigated allegations that Trump and his political associates tried to spur a Ukrainan investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden COVID-19 makes Trump's work with black Americans that much harder MORE's son’s business dealings with Burisma, an energy company in Ukraine.

“Given the massive and multifaceted nature of President Trump’s illicit scheme,” they continued, “we worry that the intent of your trip to Kyiv may be misconstrued by those in the international community.”

Malpass, a former Trump campaign adviser and Treasury undersecretary, was confirmed as president of the World Bank in April. The international development financier has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to revamping Ukraine’s agriculture, infrastructure and education sectors, damaged by years of corruption and Russian aggression.

Malpass touted Zelensky’s 2019 election win in an Aug. 25 op-ed as a “mandate to deliver on reforms and growth.” He also recounted his trip to Kyiv, and added that his meeting with the new president and Ukrainian leaders “give me optimism that policy changes are under way and will work if Ukraine can seize the moment.”

“The strong mandate from the people provides an opportunity for the authorities to move forward swiftly, and the World Bank is determined to provide support during this critical journey toward a freer, stronger Ukraine,” Malpass wrote.

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Malpass added that he and Zelenksy discussed fostering competition within the Ukrainian energy, financial and agricultural industries.  

He also told reporters during an October roundtable that he did not discuss Burisma with Zelenskyy or anything related to Trump's demands.

The Democratic lawmakers praised the World Bank’s commitment to helping Ukraine achieve long-sought economic reforms, but questioned why no new projects in the country were added to the lender’s pipeline after Malpass’s meeting. 

They also expressed concerns that Malpass’s visit occurred during the height of Trump’s alleged increased pressure on Zelensky to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden and his role on the board of Burisma.

“In light of these concerns, we would encourage you to provide more context around your trip to Kyiv six months ago and to share the World Bank’s plans for future engagement in Ukraine,” they wrote.

The lawmakers asked Malpass to disclose when he decided to visit Kyiv, whether he coordinated his trip with non-World Bank officials, the “deliverables” of the meeting, the meeting’s impact on the World Bank’s plans in Ukraine and whether they discussed Hunter Biden, Burisma or Viktor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general who was ousted under international pressure from leaders including former Vice President Biden. 

Updated at 6:10 p.m.