Messages Detail How U.S. Officials Pressured Ukraine on Trump's Behalf

John Rudoff  Sipa USA via AP FILE

John Rudoff Sipa USA via AP FILE

Trump alleged that Biden thwarted an investigation into his son's work at a Ukrainian energy company. It will run in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Volker explained in his remarks that Trump had a dim view of the Ukrainian government given its involvement in 2016 efforts to damage Trump's presidential campaign, and that the president's view of rampant and widespread corruption in the country was a significant barrier to cooperation between the two nations going forward.

Three House committees have released dozens of texts between US diplomats in Ukraine discussing how to handle a response to President Trump's demands that the country launch an investigation into Joe Biden's family.

"In the opening statement, Volker repeatedly says that he does not believe that Joe Biden did anything wrong or that he was in any way affected by his son's finances", Wallace said.

The Trump campaign is doing an ad blitz in the same four states starting this weekend, going after Biden. "After sharing my concerns with the Ukrainian leadership, an advisor to President Zelensky asked me to connect him to the President's personal lawyer, Mayor Rudy Giuliani".

Text messages between Bill Taylor and Gordon Sondland.

A week before the call, Sondland spoke with Zelenskiy.

Much of the brouhaha centers on messages from Bill Taylor, charge d'affaires at the US Embassy in Kiev, who is the only one to suggest the military aid to Ukraine and President Volodymyr Zelensky's meeting with Trump are being "conditioned" on investigations of Hunter Biden and Ukraine's role in 2016 meddling in the US election.

In other text messages, including one exchange on September 1 - the day after Johnson told Trump that Sondland had raised concerns about a quid pro quo - the acting ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, raised concerns with Volker and Sondland.

In the following weeks, the diplomats brainstormed a statement they expected Ukraine to make committing to undertake investigations sought by the Trump administration.

Way back in April 2016, President Barack Obama argued that the United States stood for the "principle... that nations like Ukraine have the right to choose their own destiny".

In one of the text exchanges dated July 21, USA charge d'affaires for Ukraine Bill Taylor wrote to Sondland: "Gordon, one thing Kurt and I talked about yesterday was Sasha Danyiuk's point that President Zelensky is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics".

In a separate exchange with a top aide to Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, Yermak references scheduling the meeting before Ukraine will announce the investigations. The Russians love it. The texts themselves show that Taylor was taking his cues from Sondland and Volker, not directly from the White House or Mike Pompeo, which is why he keeps asking Sondland for clarification.

Taylor warned about the message that would be sent to Ukraine and Russian Federation by withholding military aid. Taylor said that by withholding the Ukrainian assistance, "we have already shaken their faith in us".

The messages also reveal concerns by a top US diplomat in Ukraine that Mr. Trump was seeking to use a hold on almost $400 million in USA aid to Ukraine-which the president imposed a week before his July call with his Ukrainian counterpart-for political purposes. "Thus my nightmare scenario".

Sondland replied with a defense of the plan, and of Trump, in a response that cut to the heart of the issue roiling Washington.

It's curious how the same treatment was not given a few months ago to the anti-Trump text messages of Federal Bureau of Investigation employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, when the entire media establishment twisted itself into pretzels to explain that when Strzok said "we'll stop" Trump from becoming president what he really meant, you see, was something totally innocuous and not sinister at all.

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, then responded with a very carefully worded text denying the quid pro quo and suggesting they speak by phone - as if he knew the contents of texts would one day be part of just such an inquiry.

"I suggest", he added, "we stop the back and forth by text".

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