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Texts show U.S. officials tied Ukraine meeting to political probes

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 4, 2019 - Duration: 02:23s

Texts show U.S. officials tied Ukraine meeting to political probes

U.S. officials pressured their Ukrainian counterparts to launch investigations that could benefit President Donald Trump’s personal political agenda in exchange for a meeting between the two countries’ leaders, a cache of diplomatic texts released late on Thursday showed.

Jonah Green reports.

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Texts show U.S. officials tied Ukraine meeting to political probes

On Friday, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson arrived on Capitol Hill to testify at a House hearing on why he deemed a whistleblower complaint against President Trump an urgent matter.

Atkinson alerted Congress to the existence of the complaint, which has now sparked an impeachment inquiry.

This comes hours after revelations from Thursday’s witness, former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker, who resigned after the complaint’s release.

Volker handed over texts, then released by democrats, which show a squabble between US diplomats over whether Trump had dangled $400 million dollars in security aid to get something out of Ukraine's president: an investigation into rival Joe Biden and his family.

One top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor said he thought it was quote 'crazy' for Trump to withhold military aid from Ukraine for help with a political campaign.

But U.S. ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland fired back, saying there were no 'quid pro quos' of any kind.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: “There is no pro quo!

And that was the text message that I saw, and that nullified everything.” Democrats are not satisfied with that explanation and want to know more about the July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy when Trump asked for a “favor” after Zelenskiy brought up American military aid.

A favor that on Friday Trump appears to have gotten.

Ukrainian prosecutors said they would review 15 previous investigations related to the founder of gas company Burisma, where the son of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was a board member until this year.

But Ukraine's new top prosecutor told Reuters on Friday he was not aware of any evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.” Trump on Thursday again invited foreign interference in a U.S. presidential election by publicly calling on Ukraine and China to investigate Joe Biden.

Democrats say this is further example of impeachable conduct.

Trump said as president he had the “absolute right” to do it.

On the South Lawn Friday, Trump claimed his efforts aren’t political.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: “We’re investigating corruption.

We’re not investigating campaigns.” Though when pressed couldn't name anyone he wanted foreign leaders to investigate other than his political rivals.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: “You know, we would have to look…”

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