Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was reportedly preparing to announce the investigation requested by President Trump into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden in order to secure military aid withheld by the Trump administration until word the funds had been frozen leaked.
In a July 25 phone call that occurred days after Trump froze the aid and has become central to House Democrats’ impeachment effort, Trump urged Zelensky to announce the probe into Hunter Biden and Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company for which he worked.
Most of Zelensky’s inner circle advised him to make the statement, saying the need for the aid outweighed any fallout that might result from seeming to take sides in U.S. politics, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Zelensky’s staff reportedly planned for him to announce an investigation as well as a separate probe into a conspiracy theory about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election in a Sept. 13 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, but the hold on the hundreds of millions of dollars became public, prompting outrage, two days before the interview was scheduled, according to the Times.
White House officials have since insisted that there was no quid pro quo in Trump’s request, but several U.S. officials, including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, have testified in the House that the aid was specifically conditioned on the public statement.
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