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 Russia’s most critical neighbor.
The January 2016 gathering, confirmed by multiple participants and contemporaneous memos, brought some of Ukraine’s top corruption prosecutors and investigators face to face with members of former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), the FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ).
The agenda suggested the purpose was training and coordination. But Ukrainian participants said it didn’t take long — during the meetings and afterward — to realize the Americans’ objectives included two politically hot investigations: one that touched Vice President Joe Biden’s 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 Ukraine embassy in Washington tasked with organizing the meeting.
Telizhenko, who no longer works for the Ukraine embassy, said U.S. officials volunteered during the meetings — one of which was held in the White House’s Old Executive Office Building — that they had an interest in reviving a closed investigation into payments to U.S. figures from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions. – READ MORE