A nearly insignificant reference on the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council’s webpage, under the heading of Washington Watch No. 4, reads this way: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire — Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.”
Hmm. Well that’s interesting.
Particularly since the Democrats have been busily working to impeach President Donald Trump over supposed nefarious Ukraine wheelings and dealings.
Particularly since a couple of Republican senators, as The Washington Times previously reported, have requested the Justice Department to investigate whether or not Ukrainian officials tried to undermine Trump’s presidential campaign — and asked for Attorney General William Barr to give them the answer by Oct. 14.
According to Politico — according to a Politico report from Jan. 11, 2017, that was linked on the USUBC’s page — the answer to that question is a clear-cut “yes.”
Headine: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire.”
And here’s how that 2017 story starts: “Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect [Trump] after quietly working to boost Clinton.”
It’s a worthwhile read.
One excerpt: “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office.”
Another: “A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia.”
As news watchers recall, Manafort did ultimately resign and face charges. The Trump campaign did face ongoing — unfounded — accusations of collusion with Russia.
The piece goes on to report how Ukraine’s “involvement in the [2016 presidential] race” to the White House “appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.”
And then there was this tidbit: “The Ukrainian antipathy for Trump’s team — and alignment with [Hillary] Clinton’s — can be traced back to late 2013. That’s when the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych [removed from power in 2014], whom Manafort had been advising, abruptly backed out of a European Union pact linked to anti-corruption reforms,” and instead, signed a bailout agreement with Russia, where he then fled.
Shortly after, a woman named Alexandra Chalupa caught wind of the Manafort-Yanukovych connection. Who’s Chalupa?
The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants. A lawyer by training. And a Democratic operative who had worked during the Clinton administration in the White House Office of Public Liaison, and who then went on to a position with the Democratic National Committee as a consultant.
“The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016,” Politico wrote, citing Federal Election Commission records.
And Chalupa used her position, contacts and experience to align with investigative journalists, intelligence officials and government and citizen sources in both Kiev and Washington, D.C., to dig deeper into Manafort and, possibly, Trump improprieties.
“She occasionally shared her findings with officials from the DNC and Clinton’s campaign,” Politico wrote. “She said she shared her concern [about a Manafort-Russia connection] with Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, and one of his top aides, Oksana Shulyar.”
At the time, nobody thought Trump was much of a contender for the White House, so the findings were largely yawned. Until Trump hired Manafort, that is.
All of a sudden, the DNC was all ears.
“[W]ith the DNC’s encouragement, Chalupa asked [Ukrainian] embassy staff to try to arrange an interview in which Proshenko [Ukraine president, 2014-2019] might discuss Manafort’s ties to Yanukovych,” Politico wrote. Apparently, embassy folk said no, but they then offered Chalupa quiet assistance — quiet, so that they couldn’t be seen as too political.
Shulyar, aide to Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, denied any such assistance came from the embassy — or from her. Then again, of course she would; ‘twouldn’t look good for Ukraine to appear to pick a campaign side, right?
Hold that thought.
“But Andrii Telizhenko, who worked as a political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy under Shulyar, said [Shulyar] instructed him to help Chalupa research connections between Trump, Manafort and Russia,” Politico reported.
Telizhenoko’s quoted remarks?
“Oksana [Shulyar] said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa. … They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa. … Oksana was keeping it all quiet [but] the embassy worked very closely with [Chalupa],” Telizhenko told Politico.
Other sources confirmed.
And the goal, Politico wrote, was to get a congressional hearing — or, even better, a congressional investigation.
“Chalupa confirmed that a week after Manafort’s hiring was announced, she discussed the possibility of a congressional investigation with a foreign policy legislative assistant in the office of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH),” Politico reported.
The story goes on.
The rabbit hole goes deeper.
But one big takeaway is this: When it comes to Democrats pointing fingers at Team Trump for crooked Ukraine dealings, fact is, they better look inward. They better look at Clinton. They better look at their own DNC.
The two Republican senators, Ron Johnson and Charles Grassley, requesting Justice Department information about Ukraine’s interference in the 2016 election better kick it into high gear.
Like much the Democrats accuse, the trail of corruption doesn’t so much stop at Trump’s door as it meanders on down Clinton Lane, right alongside DNC Way.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ckchumley.
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