DOJ Reconfirms: Ukraine's Role in 2016 Election Interference is Being Investigated

Posted: Sep 25, 2019 1:00 PM
DOJ Reconfirms: Ukraine's Role in 2016 Election Interference is Being Investigated

Source: AP Photo/Gerry Broome, Paul Sancya

After the Department of Justice released the call transcript between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Wednesday morning, officials also reconfirmed U.S. Attorney John Durham is looking into Ukraine's role and potential interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"A Department of Justice team led by U.S. Attorney John Durham is separately exploring the extent to which a number of countries, including Ukraine, played a role in the counterintelligence investigation directed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 election. While the Attorney General has yet to contact Ukraine in connection with this investigation, certain Ukrainians who are not members of the government have volunteered information to Mr. Durham, which he is evaluating," DOJ Spokesperson Kerri Kopek released in a statement. 

According to the transcript, President Trump was concerned about Ukraine's role and asked Zelensky to get to the bottom of what happened.

"I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it. I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike...I guess you have one of your wealthy people...The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation," Trump said on the call. "I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it. As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that's possible."

What is Crowdstrike?

In 2016, a DNC operative met with Ukrainian officials in Washington D.C. They were looking for dirt on then-candidate Trump. From The Hill:

In its most detailed account yet, the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington says a Democratic National Committee (DNC) insider during the 2016 election solicited dirt on Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and even tried to enlist the country's president to help.

In written answers to questions, Ambassador Valeriy Chaly's office says 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.

Chalupa later tried to arrange for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to comment on Manafort’s Russian ties on a U.S. visit during the 2016 campaign, the ambassador said.

Chaly says that, at the time of the contacts in 2016, the embassy knew Chalupa primarily as a Ukrainian American activist and learned only later of her ties to the DNC. He says the embassy considered her requests an inappropriate solicitation of interference in the U.S. election.