Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pushed back at speculation that he discussed a quid pro quo with President Trump involving a link between U.S. military aid and a request to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden’s dealings with the Ukrainian firm Burisma Holdings.
In an interview with TIME and three European outlets published Monday, Zelensky criticized the Trump administration for delaying aid to his country in July but insisted that it did not have to do with a “quid pro quo.”
“If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us,” the foreign leader said. “I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo.”
He added: “Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing.… I don’t want us to look like beggars.”
President Trump took the quote as a further exoneration of his actions, even as Democrats prepare to continue the impeachment probe with hearings in the House Judiciary Committee set to begin on Wednesday.
Breaking News: The President of Ukraine has just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls. If the Radical Left Democrats were sane, which they are not, it would be case over!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 2, 2019
Zelensky continued his reproof of the White House, saying that military aid is urgently needed as Ukraine prepares for talks with Russia. He also said that President Trump’s public concerns with corruption in the European country are bad for his country.
“When America says, for instance, that Ukraine is a corrupt country, that is the hardest of signals,” he told TIME. “Everyone hears that signal. Investments, banks, stakeholders, companies, American, European, companies that have international capital in Ukraine, it’s a signal to them that says, ‘Be careful, don’t invest.’ Or, ‘Get out of there.’”
Zelensky did acknowledge that his country has corruption, but assured that they are making progress.
“It’s not that those things don’t exist,” he stated. “They do. All branches of government were corrupted over many years, and we are working to clean that up. But that signal from [America] is very important.”
This wasn’t the first time Zelensky has backed up President Trump’s claim that no bribery or quid pro quo took place when he asked the Ukrainian head of state to “look into” the Bidens.
Referencing a transcript of the July 25 phone call that an anonymous government leaker said was cause for alarm, Zelensky told reporters back in September: “I think you read everything. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be involved [in] democratic, open elections of USA. We had, I think, good phone call…. It was normal. We spoke about many things. I think you read that nobody pushed me.”
A transcript of an April 21 call between the two leaders that was also the subject of scrutiny during the impeachment probe likewise did not reveal any sign of a quid pro quo.
During the July 25 call, President Trump’s words to Zelensky were:
There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it…. It sounds horrible to me.
Former vice president and 2020 presidential contender Joe Biden bragged at a Council on Foreign Relations event that he got Ukraine to fire Prosecutor General Victor Shokin on threat of withholding $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees in 2016. This was at a time when Shokin was investigating corruption at Burisma, which had made Hunter Biden a board member and was paying him $50,000 a month.
Democrats and various mainstream-media outlets repeatedly state that there is no evidence that Biden committed bribery or acted improperly in his dealings with Ukraine.
Meanwhile, one of the four impeachment articles reportedly being prepared against President Trump is for bribery, despite Zelensky’s remarks to the contrary. Democrats argue that because Joe Biden is currently running for president, President Trump’s request to have his past looked at constitutes a call for foreign election interference.
The report House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is sending to the House Judiciary Committee claims that “President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest.”
Two staffers for Adam Schiff have been found to work or have worked for the Atlantic Council, a Burisma-funded think tank. One of the staffers, Sean Misko, is reportedly close friends with alleged “whistleblower” Erica Ciaramella.
Reprinted with permission from - The New American - by Luis Miguel