Trump officials drafted statement for Ukraine leader to pledge desired probes: report

Two Trump administration officials reportedly drafted a statement meant to be released by the Ukrainian government announcing investigations related to President Trump‘s political rivals in the U.S.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Kurt Volker, Trump’s former envoy to Ukraine who tendered his resignation last week, was involved in drafting the statement along with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union (EU).

The statement pledged Ukraine’s support for an investigation into the energy company Burisma, where former Vice President Joe Biden‘s son Hunter sat on the board, as well as a probe into allegations that Ukrainian officials sought to help Hillary Clinton‘s campaign against Trump in 2016, the Times reported.

The two officials reportedly drafted the statement in the weeks following a widely-scrutinized call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in late July during which Trump pressed the Ukrainian leader to open an investigation into Biden, the current Democratic presidential front-runner.

It is not clear if the statement ever made it to Zelensky’s desk, but a top aide to the Ukrainian leader was made aware of the drafted statement, according to the Times. The newspaper reported that the statement was intended to push Ukraine to follow through on promises made with leaders and diplomats behind closed doors.

The Hill has reached out to the State Department and White House for comment.

The Trump-Zelensky call has in recent days become the center of an impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats targeting the president, as Democrats argue that Trump improperly pushed Zelensky to interfere in a U.S. election.

The White House and Trump’s GOP allies have argued that no improper pressure was placed on Zelensky during the call, and have argued that the president was right to request an investigation into unproven allegations about Biden.

Republicans have also long alleged that Ukrainian officials were working directly with the Clinton campaign following a Politico report in 2017 that found that Ukrainian officials had publicly sought to discredit Trump in statements while privately working with allies of the former Democratic nominee to disseminate opposition research conducted on Trump.

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