President Donald Trump “repeatedly pressured” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter Biden, according to a late Friday report by the Wall Street Journal.
According to anonymous sources said to be familiar with the matter, President Trump reportedly urged Zelensky to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on the proposed inquiry and pressured him to do so “about eight times.”
“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know,” whether the younger Biden had been shielded from prosecution by the intervention of his father, one of those sources told the outlet.
That source, however, said there was no discussion between Trump and Zelensky which linked the longed-for probe to the provision of foreign aid to the Ukraine. The WSJ‘s source also made clear that they “didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on an investigation.”
Giuliani confirmed he met with Ukrainian officials to discuss the issue. Per that report:
Mr. Giuliani in June and August met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation, he said in an interview. The Trump lawyer has suggested Mr. Biden as vice president worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden. A Ukrainian official earlier this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.
After the initial July call between Trump and Zelensky, the Ukrainian government issued a press release which said the call largely centered around Trump congratulating Zelensky on his election win and that Trump had also expressed hopes “that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine [and] complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine” and the United States.
The discussion between the two presidents has since taken outsized form. Critical speculation has suggested that Trump conditioned foreign aid to the Ukraine on the country’s initiation of a probe into Biden. Further developments suggest the ongoing whistleblower complaint controversy is directly related to such discussions between the Trump White House and the Ukrainian government.
Giuliani says the discussions about whether Biden had a corruption investigation into his son killed are immaterial to the foreign aid issue, telling the WSJ that his meetings with Ukrainian officials occurred weeks before the Trump administration began to review a $250 million foreign aid package.
Regarding the underlying issue of alleged Biden family corruption, however, Giuliani is not being shy about the desire for an investigation to commence. Again the Friday report:
In recent months, Mr. Giuliani has mounted an extensive effort to pressure Ukraine to do so. He told The Wall Street Journal he met with an official from the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office in June in Paris, and met with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Mr. Zelensky in Madrid in August. Mr. Giuliani told the Journal earlier this month that Mr. Yermak assured him the Ukrainian government would “get to the bottom” of the Biden matter…He said his meeting with Mr. Yermak was set up by the State Department, and said he briefed the department on their conversation later. The State Department had no immediate comment.
Last week, a spokesperson for Biden’s presidential campaign said Giuliani’s efforts were “beneath us as Americans.”
[image via DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images]