by WorldTribune Staff, May 5, 2019
An operative for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) sought out the president of Ukraine for help finding dirt on the Trump campaign in 2016, according to a report citing the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington.
Amb. Valeriy Chaly’s office said DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa “sought information from the Ukrainian government on Paul Manafort’s dealings inside the country, in hopes of forcing the issue before Congress,” The Hill’s John Solomon reported on May 2.
Chalupa had also tried to arrange for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, during a 2016 visit to the U.S., to comment on Manafort’s alleged Russian ties, Solomon cited the ambassador as saying.
FEC records show Chalupa’s firm, Chalupa & Associates, was paid $71,918 by the DNC during the 2016 election cycle.
The Ukrainian embassy knew Chalupa primarily as a Ukrainian-American activist and learned only later of her ties to the DNC, Chaly’s office said, adding that the embassy considered her requests an inappropriate solicitation of interference in the U.S. election.
“The Embassy got to know Ms. Chalupa because of her engagement with Ukrainian and other diasporas in Washington D.C., and not in her DNC capacity. We’ve learned about her DNC involvement later,” Chaly said in a statement issued by his embassy.
“We were surprised to see Alexandra’s interest in Mr. Paul Manafort’s case. It was her own cause. The Embassy representatives unambiguously refused to get involved in any way, as we were convinced that this is a strictly U.S. domestic matter.
“All ideas floated by Alexandra were related to approaching a Member of Congress with a purpose to initiate hearings on Paul Manafort or letting an investigative journalist ask President Poroshenko a question about Mr. Manafort during his public talk in Washington, D.C.,” the ambassador explained.
A Ukrainian court ruled that the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), closely aligned with the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, and a parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko wrongly interfered in the 2016 U.S. election by releasing documents related to Manafort.
Solomon noted that “The acknowledgement by Kiev’s embassy, plus newly released testimony, suggests the Ukrainian efforts to influence the U.S. election had some intersections in Washington as well.”
Nellie Ohr, wife of senior U.S. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, acknowledged in congressional testimony that, while working for the Clinton-hired research firm Fusion GPS, she researched Trump’s and Manafort’s ties to Russia and discovered Leshchenko was providing dirt to Fusion.
Solomon had noted in a report last month that the Obama White House invited Ukrainian law enforcement officials to a meeting in January 2016 as then-candidate Donald Trump was rapidly rising in the polls. “The meeting led to U.S. requests to the Ukrainians to help investigate Manafort, setting in motion a series of events that led to the Ukrainians leaking the documents about Manafort in May 2016,” Solomon noted.
In his statement, Chaly said the embassy had rebuffed Chalupa’s requests for information: “No documents related to Trump campaign or any individuals involved in the campaign have been passed to Ms. Chalupa or the DNC neither from the Embassy nor via the Embassy. No documents exchange was even discussed.”
But, Solomon reported that Andrii Telizhenko, a former political officer who worked under Chaly from December 2015 through June 2016, said he was instructed by Chaly and his top deputy to meet with Chalupa in March 2016 and to gather whatever dirt Ukraine had in its government files about Trump and Manafort.
Telizhenko said that, when he was told by the embassy to arrange the meeting, both Chaly and the ambassador’s top deputy identified Chalupa “as someone working for the DNC and trying to get Clinton elected.”
Over lunch at a Washington restaurant, Chalupa told Telizhenko what she hoped the Ukrainians could provide the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
“She said the DNC wanted to collect evidence that Trump, his organization and Manafort were Russian assets, working to hurt the U.S. and working with Putin against the U.S. interests. She indicated if we could find the evidence they would introduce it in Congress in September and try to build a case that Trump should be removed from the ballot, from the election,” Telizhenko said.
After the meeting, Solomon reported that “Telizhenko said he became concerned about the legality of using his country’s assets to help an American political party win an U.S. election.” But he proceeded with the assignment.
Telizhenko said that, as he began his research, he discovered that Fusion GPS was nosing around Ukraine, seeking similar information, and he believed they, too, worked for the Democrats.
As a former aide inside the general prosecutor’s office in Kiev, Telizhenko “used contacts with intelligence, police and prosecutors across the country to secure information connecting Russian figures to assistance on some of the Trump organization’s real estate deals overseas, including a tower in Toronto,” Solomon reported.
Telizhenko said he did not want to provide the intelligence he collected directly to Chalupa, and instead handed the materials to Chaly: “I told him what we were doing was illegal, that it was unethical doing this as diplomats.” He said the ambassador told him he would handle the matter and had opened a second channel back in Ukraine to continue finding dirt on Trump.
Telizhenko said he also was instructed by his bosses to meet with an American journalist researching Manafort’s ties to Ukraine.
About a month later, he said his relationship with the ambassador soured and, by June 2016, he was ordered to return to Ukraine. There, he reported his concerns about the embassy’s contacts with the Democrats to the former prosecutor general’s office and officials in the Poroshenko administration: “Everybody already knew what was going on and told me it had been approved at the highest levels,” Telizhenko said.