Amid Democratic finger-pointing over allegations that President Donald Trump sought to drag Ukraine into America’s domestic politics, a letter from 2018 has emerged that shows Democrats doing exactly that.
The letter from Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Patrick Leahy of Vermont was cited Wednesday in a column by Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post.
The letter was an effort to persuade Ukraine to supply information that Democrats wanted for the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.
The May 4, 2018, letter did not directly threaten aid to Ukraine but noted that the senators signing it were “strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine.”
The letter to Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko mentioned Ukraine’s progress in implementing democracy and then got to the Democrats’ concern.
“We have supported that capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these principles to avoid the ire of President Trump,” it said.
The Democrats then urged Ukraine to “reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.”
“This reported refusal to cooperate with the Mueller probe also sends a worrying signal — to the Ukrainian people as well as the international community — about your government’s commitment more broadly to support justice and the rule of law,” the letter said before demanding direct answers to questions about Ukraine’s cooperation with the Mueller investigation.
Thiessen noted the significance of the letter in his column, which came as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was using Trump’s conversation with Ukraine’s president regarding Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, as her tipping point for supporting a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.
“So it’s okay for Democratic senators to encourage Ukraine to investigate Trump, but it’s not okay for the president to allegedly encourage Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden?” Thiessen wrote.
The Ukraine issue arose after The Post last week reported that a whistleblower complaint lodged with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concerned comments made in a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about investigating Hunter Biden, who formerly had business dealings in Ukraine.
According to a transcript of the call released by the White House, Trump said, “The other thing, There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Eiden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great.
“Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it … It sounds horrible to me.”
According to a report by The New York Times, the then-vice president pushed Ukraine in 2016 to oust a prosecutor who was closing in on an energy company called Burisma Holdings, for which Hunter Biden was a board member pulling down a salary of about $50,000 a month.
The Times report noted that in March 2016, the former vice president demanded Ukraine dismiss the prosecutor or face a loss of $1 billion in aid.
Joe Biden, who has admitted and even boasted about urging the prosecutor be dismissed, has said there was no connection between his son’s business interests and his action.
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