Skip to comments.Obama engaged Ukraine to give the Russian collusion narrative an early boost (and 2016 Hillary)
Posted on 10/05/2019 2:54:47 AM PDT by Liz
As Donald Trump began his meteoric rise to the presidency, the Obama White House summoned Ukrainian authorities to Washington to coordinate ongoing anti-corruption efforts inside Russias most critical neighbor.
The January 2016 gathering, confirmed by multiple participants and contemporaneous memos, brought some of Ukraines top corruption prosecutors and investigators face to face with members of former President Obamas National Security Council (NSC), FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ).
The agenda suggested the purpose was training and coordination. But Ukrainian participants said it didnt take long during the meetings and afterward to realize the Americans objectives included two politically hot investigations: one that touched Vice President Joe Bidens family and one that involved a lobbying firm linked closely to then-candidate Trump. U.S. officials kept talking about how important it was that all of our anti-corruption efforts be united, said Andrii Telizhenko, then a political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington tasked with organizing the meeting.
Telizhenko, who no longer works for the Ukrainian Embassy, said U.S. officials volunteered during the meetings one of which was held in the White Houses Old Executive Office Building that they had an interest in reviving a closed investigation into payments to U.S. figures from Ukraines Russia-backed Party of Regions. That 2014 investigation was led by the FBI and focused heavily on GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort, whose firm long had been tied to Trump through his partner and Trump pal, Roger Stone.
Agents interviewed Manafort in 2014 about whether he received undeclared payments from the party of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russias Vladimir Putin, and whether he engaged in improper foreign lobbying.
The FBI shut down the case without charging Manafort. Telizhenko said he couldnt remember whether Manafort was mentioned during the January 2016 meeting. But he and other attendees recalled DOJ officials asking investigators from Ukraines National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) if they could help locate new evidence about the Party of Regions payments and its dealings with Americans.
It was definitely the case that led to the charges against Manafort and the leak to U.S. media during the 2016 election, he said.
That makes the January 2016 meeting one of the earliest documented efforts to build the now-debunked Trump-Russia collusion narrative and one of the first to involve the Obama administrations intervention. Spokespeople for the NSC, DOJ and FBI declined to comment. A representative for former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice did not return emails seeking comment.
Nazar Kholodnytskyy, Ukraines chief anti-corruption prosecutor, told me he attended some but not all of the January 2016 Washington meetings and couldnt remember the specific cases, if any, that were discussed. But he said he soon saw evidence in Ukraine of political meddling in the U.S. election. Kholodnytskyy said the key evidence against Manafort a ledger showing payments from the Party of Regions was known to Ukrainian authorities since 2014 but was suddenly released in May 2016 by the U.S.-friendly NABU, after Manafort was named Trumps campaign chairman: Somebody kept this black ledger secret for two years and then showed it to the public and the U.S. media. It was extremely suspicious.
Kholodnytskyy said he explicitly instructed NABU investigators who were working with American authorities not to share the ledger with the media. Look, Manaforts case is one of the cases that hurt me a lot, he said. I ordered the detectives to give nothing to the mass media considering this case. Instead, they had broken my order and published themselves these one or two pages of this black ledger regarding Paul Manafort."
For me it was the first call that something was going wrong and that there is some external influence in this case. And there is some other interests in this case not in the interest of the investigation and a fair trial, he added.
Kostiantyn Kulyk, deputy head of the Ukraine prosecutor generals international affairs office, said that, shortly after Ukrainian authorities returned from the Washington meeting, there was a clear message about helping the Americans with the Party of the Regions case. Yes, there was a lot of talking about needing help and then the ledger just appeared in public, he recalled. Kulyk said Ukrainian authorities had evidence that other Western figures, such as former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig, also received money from Yanukovychs party. But the Americans werent interested: They just discussed Manafort. This was all and only what they wanted. Nobody else.
Manafort joined Trumps campaign on March 29, 2016, and then was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, 2016. NABU leaked the existence of the ledgers on May 29, 2016. Later that summer, it told U.S. media the ledgers showed payments to Manafort, a revelation that forced him to resign from the campaign in August 2016.
A Ukrainian court in December concluded NABUs release of the ledger was an illegal attempt to influence the U.S. election. And a member of Ukraines parliament has released a recording of a NABU official saying the agency released the ledger to help Democratic nominee Hillary Clintons campaign.
The other case raised at the January 2016 meeting, Telizhenko said, involved Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company under investigation in Ukraine for improper foreign transfers of money. At the time, Burisma allegedly was paying then-Vice President Joe Bidens son Hunter as both a board member and a consultant. More than $3 million flowed from Ukraine to an American firm tied to Hunter Biden in 2014-15, bank records show.
According to Telizhenko, U.S. officials told the Ukrainians they would prefer that Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over. The Ukrainians did not agree. But then Joe Biden pressured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire Ukraines chief prosecutor in March 2016, as I previously reported. The Burisma case was transferred to NABU, then shut down. The Ukrainian Embassy in Washington on Thursday confirmed the Obama administration requested the meetings in January 2016, but embassy representatives attended only some of the sessions.
"Unfortunately, the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington, D.C., was not invited to join the DOJ and other law enforcement-sector meetings," it said. It said it had no record that the Party of Regions or Burisma cases came up in the meetings it did attend. Ukraine is riddled with corruption, Russian meddling and intense political conflicts, so one must carefully consider any Ukrainian accounts.
But Telizhenkos claim that the DOJ reopened its Manafort probe as the 2016 election ramped up is supported by the DOJs own documents, including communications involving Associate Attorney General Bruce Ohr, his wife, Nellie, and ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
Nellie Ohr and Steele worked in 2016 for the research firm, Fusion GPS, that was hired by Clintons campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find Russia dirt on Trump. Steele wrote the famous dossier for Fusion that the FBI used to gain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign. Nellie Ohr admitted to Congress that she routed Russia dirt on Trump from Fusion to the DOJ through her husband during the election.
DOJ emails show Nellie Ohr on May 30, 2016, directly alerted her husband and two DOJ prosecutors specializing in international crimes to the discovery of the black ledger documents that led to Manaforts prosecution. Reported Trove of documents on Ukrainian Party of Regions Black Cashbox, Nellie Ohr wrote to her husband and federal prosecutors Lisa Holtyn and Joseph Wheatley, attaching a news article on the announcement of NABUs release of the documents.
Bruce Ohr and Steele worked on their own effort to get dirt on Manafort from a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, who had a soured business relationship with him. Deripaska was almost ready to talk to U.S. government officials regarding the money that Manafort stole, Bruce Ohr wrote in notes from his conversations with Steele.
The efforts eventually led to a September 2016 meeting in which the FBI asked Deripaska if he could help prove Manafort was helping Trump collude with Russia. Deripaska laughed off the notion as preposterous. Previously, Politico reported that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington assisted Clintons campaign through a DNC contractor. The Ukrainian Embassy acknowledges it got requests for assistance from the DNC staffer to find dirt on Manafort but denies it provided any improper assistance.
Now we have more concrete evidence that the larger Ukrainian government also was being pressed by the Obama administration to help build the Russia collusion narrative. And that onion is only beginning to be peeled. But what is already confirmed by Ukrainians looks a lot more like assertive collusion with a foreign power than anything detailed in the Mueller report.
John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He serves as an investigative columnist and executive vice president for video at The Hill.
WHY is the BEST INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER listed as OPINION CONTRIBUTOR?
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
Id say its because John Solomon drafts the material for the article on his own, and probably does not give the editors access to his sources to verify them.
Obama's wondering the same thing (cackle)----he always suspected Hunter was holding out on them in the Ukrainian deal.
Hunter had(s) a very expensive cocaine habit when he supposedly got a paltry $3 million from Burisma --- to be split three ways.
But Obama knew IMF had given Ukraine $5 billion.......which went missing......
and was being investigated by the same prosecutor looking into Hunter. Quelle "coincidence."
The corruption-seeking prosecutor got fired when Joe Biden stepped in to defend his son soon as the checks cleared......
So, where was the CIA and Brennan during all this?
I will give Obama credit. If the implication here is to be believed he was smart enough to go after Manafort three months before he joined the Trump campaign.
“” “” So, where was the CIA and Brennan during all this?”” “”
They are Party Organs. Shilling for DNC of course.
I think career politicians are a major factor in crookedness in our gov’t and this unpeeling onion is more proof.
We need term limits
Tad Devine and Tony Podesta were in Ukraine with Manafort doing the very same thing he did. Nothing happened to them.
Oh, please. Obama is not THAT smart. This was a ploy to divert attention from the dirty deals of Hillary's pals
..........the infamous Podestas (who Manafort worked for in the Ukraine).........
John Podesta was Hillary's campaign manager....Obama's COS....and Bill Clinton's top aide....among his many govt manifestations.
His brother was a lobbyist who went belly-up under all the scrutiny.
Great chart. I never realized how extensivly the Clintons wove their web.
True yet valerie may have been that smart. Doesn’t she still live with The 0ne helping him tie his shoe laces, or did he get velcro?
Hillary was spending an awful lot of time in Sweden I wonder if she was getting off the record financial aid there?
Wherever VP Joe Biden went on official business, son Hunter cashed in
By David Harsanyi, senior editor of The Federalist.
September 26, 2019 | 9:21pm | Updated
Biden has been leading the Democratic field. The central case for his candidacy rests on the supposedly exemplary work he did as a senior member of Team Obama. Well, in 2016, acting as the Obama administrations point man in Ukraine, the vice president unlike Trump openly threatened to withhold $1 billion in American loan guarantees if the embattled nation didnt fire the countrys top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin.
As Biden later bragged, I looked at them and said, Im leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, youre not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. Most of the media assure us that, though by the Democrats new standards this kind of intimidation constitutes a flagrant abuse of power, Bidens reasons for threatening Ukraine were chaste.
But simply repeating this talking point doesnt make it true. Granted, Shokin was a shady character. Yet at some point he had been investigating Burisma, the largest gas company in Ukraine, which also happened to be paying Hunter Biden a $50,000 monthly salary as a board member.
By coincidence, Hunter had landed this cushy gig in a foreign country only a few months after the Obama administration began dispatching his father, Joe, to the very same foreign country on a regular basis.
China’s contributions seem small, and I doubt Qatar forgot to donate.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.