Ukrainian president says government will ‘happily’ investigate possible interference in 2016 US election

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday said his government would “happily” open an investigation into potential interference from Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election.

{mosads}The comments from Zelensky come more than two months after Trump asked the foreign president to look into matters related to Ukraine and the U.S. election during a phone call between the two leaders. The phone call is at the center of a whistleblower complaint that prompted an impeachment inquiry in the House. 

Speaking to reporters, Zelensky said Ukraine could not make a determination on whether it was involved in election interference without an investigation, according to The Associated Press.

There is no evidence that suggests Ukraine committed any interference during the 2016 U.S. election. The U.S. intelligence community found that Russia sought to interfere in the election to hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign and to help Trump. 

Tom Bossert, a former Homeland Security adviser in the Trump administration, said last month that the assertion that Ukraine was responsible for the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was a “conspiracy theory” that has been “completely debunked.”

He added in an interview with ABC that he communicated this point to Trump while working in the administration. Bossert also blamed Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and other officials for pushing the theory.

“At this point, I am deeply frustrated with what [Giuliani] and the legal team are doing and repeating that debunked theory to the president,” Bossert said. “It sticks in his mind when he hears it over and over again, and for clarity let me just repeat that it has no validity.”

Giuliani has pushed back hard at Bossert, saying he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. 

During a July 25 phone call with Zelensky, Trump called on the Ukrainian president to look into matters related to CrowdStrike — a U.S.-based internet security company that initially examined the breach of the DNC servers in 2016 — after the Ukrainian leader asked about buying U.S. anti-tank missiles. 

“I would like you to do us a favor though, because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it,” Trump said, according to a White House memorandum of the call. 

CrowdStrike determined in 2016 that Russian agents broke into the DNC’s network and stole emails that were later released by WikiLeaks.

Trump’s broad effort to pressure Ukraine into investigating 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son prompted House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry last month.

The inquiry centers around a whistleblower complaint that accuses Trump of using “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign government in the 2020 U.S. election.”

A White House memo of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky confirmed Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to look into Biden, a former vice president. The request came after Zelensnky brought up military assistance, which has fueled speculation on whether Trump used military aid as leverage in the talks.

Addressing the matter Thursday, Zelensky said there was “no blackmail” during the leaders’ phone conversation. He also said that no mention of money related to military aid came up during the call. 

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing, describing his phone call with Zelensky as “perfect.” He’s also derided the impeachment inquiry as a “coup” set on undoing the results of the 2016 election. 

The White House on Tuesday vowed to refuse to cooperate with the House inquiry. 

–Updated at 9:54 a.m.


Tags 2016 president election election interference Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Rudy Giuliani Ukraine Ukraine call White House

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