August 24, 1991 — Ukraine Gains Independence from the Soviet Union
December 5, 1994 — Ukraine is persuaded to give up the significant nuclear weapon capability it inherited from the USSR, is given major security assurances by the US and NATO.
February 2014 — After a popular uprising, the pro-Russian regime of Victor Yanukovich falls, and Yanukovich flees to Russia.
March 2014 — Russian forces invade and annex Crimea.
April 2014 — Russian and pro-Russian forces invade the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and take control, starting a war that continues today and has killed more than 13,000 people. Western military aid, and in particular US aid, is essential.
April 2014 – UK Investigates Burisma Founder Mykelo Zlochesky
The UK blocks accounts of Zlochevskiy, but a British court conducts a hearing on Dec. 3-5, 2014, then unblocks the accounts in January 2015. In its judgment (full text) the court finds that none of the evidence “establishes reasonable grounds for a belief that his assets were unlawfully acquired as a result of misconduct in public office.” The UK investigation is tainted by the fact that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office under Victor Shokin slow-walked its cooperation with UK investigators, undermining the UK investigation and contributing to the outcome. (This behavior by Shokin is strongly criticized in September 2015 by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in a public speech.)
May 12, 2014 — Hunter Biden joins the board of Burisma Holdings
A Burisma press release says Hunter Biden has joined its board, and that he will be “in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the company among international organizations.” Biden’s credentials are that he is a member of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP and co-founder and a managing partner of investment advisory firm Rosemont Seneca Partners. The appointment is widely seen in Ukraine as a play for political advantage, and protection, in the US.
Hunter Biden is joined by his US partner Devon Archer on the board. The appointment draws criticism for the potential perception of a conflict of interest since the appointment happens when Vice President Biden’s is the Obama administration point man for Ukraine. News reports surface about Hunter Biden’s past including cocaine use and a messy discharge from the Navy.
May 25, 2014 – Petro Poroshenko, a chocolate and confectionary magnate/oligarch, wins the presidency in Ukraine in an election to succeed Yanukovych on a platform of turning Ukraine back to the West.
June 19, 2014 – The Ukrainian Parliament approves Vitaly Yarema as prosecutor general. He is a former law enforcement officer and member of Parliament
Aug. 5, 2014 – Ukraine investigation of Burisma and Zlochevskiy begins under Yarema, citing suspicion of “unlawful enrichment.”
According to Zlochevskiy’s American lawyer, John Buretta, a court in Kiev orders this investigation closed in September 2016 because no evidence of wrongdoing had been presented. See this Sept 2017 Q&A on the Burisma website. Suspicions remain, as with most Ukrainian oligarchs who held public office at some point.
Oct. 14, 2014 – The Ukraine parliament establishes the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU).
The law establishing National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), is a priority of anti-corruption campaigners who’d helped lead the revolution. It is also a priority of the U.S. government (led by Biden) and other international backers of Ukraine, who apply pressure on Ukraine to make progress against corruption. NABU exists in part because of the recognition that the Prosecutor General’s office is ineffective. Domestic and foreign pressure overcome foot-dragging by Poroshenko to create a special High Anti-Corruption Court. See this link for evidence of pressure over the past year Also see this link, wherein the U.S. and Europe required the Ukrainian government to fund NABU in exchange for financial aid. (NABU will later bgecome a target of Giuliani.)
NABU later becomes a target of Giuliani’s (see Aug. 14, 2016 item below).
In January 2015, the Prosecutor General’s Office, led by Vitaliy Yarema, placed Zlochevsky on the wanted list for tax evasion, money laundering, and misappropriation of public funds.
Feb. 10, 2015 – Viktor Shokin takes office as Ukraine’s prosecutor general, replacing Yarema.
Sept. 24, 2015 – U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt blasts Shokin for stymying anti-corruption investigations, including explicitly criticizing him for failure to pursue Burisma.
In a speech (full text here) Pyatt pressures Poroshenko to force Shokin to crack down more on corruption, and singles Shokin’s failure to pressure Burisma, criticizing “officials at the PGO’s office” for not providing documents that were needed for the British investigation of Burisma owner Zlochevskiy. He notes this failure effectively allowed Zlochevskiy to transfer $23 million of what Pyatt says were Ukrainian taxpayer assets to Cyprus. Pyatt specifically called for the investigation and removal of officials who were involved in the failure to help the British authorities investigate Zlochevskiy: Here is the exact text of what Pyatt said about the Burisma investigation:
For example, in the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky [cq], the U.K. authorities had seized 23 million dollars in illicit assets that belonged to the Ukrainian people. Officials at the PGO’s office were asked by the U.K to send documents supporting the seizure.
Instead they sent letters to Zlochevsky’s attorneys attesting that there was no case against him. As a result, the money was freed by the U.K. court and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus.
The misconduct by the PGO officials who wrote those letters should be investigated, and those responsible for subverting the case by authorizing those letters should – at a minimum – be summarily terminated.”
Oct. 8, 2015 – In testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland gives testimony that “the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has to be reinvented as an institution that serves the citizens of Ukraine, rather than ripping them off.
Fall 2015 – Biden, along with the EU, publicly calls for ouster of Prosecutor General Shokin for failure to work on anti-corruption efforts.
John E. Herbst, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine under George W. Bush, later testified before Congress:
“By late fall of 2015, the EU and the United States joined the chorus of those seeking Mr. Shokin’s removal as the start of an overall reform of the Procurator General’s Office. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke publicly about this before and during his December visit to Kyiv.”
Dec. 8, 2015 – Joe Biden gives a speech to Ukraine’s Parliament urging the country to step up anti-corruption measures.
The speech is widely covered in the news media, Here is the full text. Biden cites the “historic battle against corruption” and urges lawmakers to “make real the Revolution of Dignity.” He says, “The only thing worse than having no hope at all is having hopes rise and see them dashed repeatedly on the shoals of corruption…Not enough has been done yet.” He specifically cites Shokin’s Office of the General Prosecutor for lagging on corruption investigations.
Jan. 21, 2016 – Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Poroshenko and discusses “the need to continue to move forward on Ukraine’s anti-corruption agenda.” This is documented in a readout on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.
Feb. 11, 2016 – Vice President Biden speaks with Poroshenko by phone. A U.S. Embassy statement said the two agreed “that it is essential for Ukraine to continue to take action to root out corruption and implement reforms.”
Biden will later boast about the pressure he exerted on Ukraine during that time to address corruption. Heprovides details on Jan. 23, 2018 in a Q&A following a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, Biden says he told Ukrainian leaders that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees unless they fired Prosecutor General Shokin. His point was that he wanted Shokin fired because he WASN’T pursuing corruption cases vigorously enough, including Burisma. However, President Trump and Rudy Giuliani have repeatedly cited that boast as evidence that Biden pushed for Shokin’s firing as a way of removing heat from Burisma, rather than increasing it. Reporting on this at the time, the New York Times noted: “The United States and other Western nations had for months called for the ousting of Mr. Shokin, who was widely criticized for turning a blind eye to corrupt practice,” PolitiFact notes that at the time that “virtually everyone” in the US government “felt that Shokin was not doing his job and should be fired, and concurred with Biden telling Poroshenko that the U.S. government would not extend the $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine until Shokin was removed from office.”
January 2016: The investigation of Burisma is dormant, and has been so for a significant time.
The status of the Burisma investigation at the time Biden made his remarks is the following, according to Vitaliy Kasko, a former deputy prosecutor general who had worked under Shokin and resigned in frustration at his stymying of corruption investigations. In a Bloomberg News interview, he says the Burisma investiagion was long dormant by the time of the Biden ultimatum in January 2016. Kasko says in the interview: “There was no pressure from anyone from the U.S. to close cases against” Zlochevskiy, Kasko says: “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.” Others reported similarly: “Shokin was not investigating. He didn’t want to investigate Burisma,” Ukranian anti-corruption advocate Daria Kaleniuk told the Washington Post. “And Shokin was fired not because he wanted to do that investigation, but quite to the contrary, because he failed that investigation.” (Remember also that in 2015, in connection with the British investigation, Shokin’s office sent letters to Zlochevsky’s attorneys attesting that there was no case against him.)
Feb-Mar 2016 – Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin resigns, returns to office, then is finally ousted
On Feb 16 Ukranian media reporst that Shokin has resigned as Prosecutor General after months of intense criticism for failing to adequately pursue any major corruption cases. Shokin submits a resignation letter on Feb 19. But on March 16 media cites a prosecutor in Shokin’s saying Shokin was back after a “long leave.” Finally, on March 29, the Parliament votes overwhelmingly to dismiss Shokin on Poroshenko’s recommendation.
The news of Shokin’s departure evokes praise. The EU issued a statement hailing his departure. The respected English-language Kyiv Post writes, “By the end of his term, he was likely one of the most unpopular figures in Ukraine, having earned a bad reputation for inaction and obstructing top cases.” The paper also says it “wasn’t able to find any public comments that Shokin made about [Burisma] during his 14 months in office.”
Feb. 18 and 19, 2016 – Vice President Biden speaks by phone with Poroshenko. A Feb 19 U.S. Embassy statement says Biden again urged the Ukrainian leader to “to accelerate Ukraine’s efforts to fight corruption, strengthen justice and the rule of law, and fulfill its IMF requirements.”
March 2016 — Paul Manafort becomes Trump’s campaign chairman. Manafort had represented Yanukovich and is credited with much of the pro-Russian President’s political success.
April 14, 2016 – Vice President Biden continues to press anti-corruption messaging in a phone call with Poroshenko, emphasizing “the urgency of putting in place a new Prosecutor General who would bolster the agency’s anti-corruption efforts and strongly support the work of its reformers.” Biden also makes a call the same day to new Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and delivers the same message.
May 12, 2016 – New General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, takes office. According to the New York Times, “While Mr. Lutsenko initially took a hard line against Burisma, within 10 months after he took office, Burisma announced that Mr. Lutsenko and the courts had “fully closed” all “legal proceedings and pending criminal allegations” against Mr. Zlochevsky and his companies.
Aug. 14, 2016 – Evidence surfaces of payments to Paul Manafort
The evidence appears to show off-the-books payments by Yanukovych to Manafort. The payments were recorded in a “black ledger” of Yanukovych’s political party that was turned over to Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU). The New York Times reports the story. Days later, parliament member and journalist Serhiy Leshchenko, holds a news conference to discuss the ledger and criticize the payments to Manafort.
(Rudy Giuliani will later charge that Ukranians including Leshchenko were colluding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to reveal information tainting Manafort and, by association, Trump, in order to influence the election. Giuliani in May 2019 accused Leshchenko personally on Fox News of colluding with Democrats.) Leshchenko denies the accusations.
Sept. 2016 – Case against Burisma is officially closed
In a 2017 Q&A on the Burisma website, Zlochevskiy’s American lawyer, John Buretta, a former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general, says that a court in Kyiv ordered a case closed in September 2016 because no evidence of wrongdoing had been presented.
June 8, 2017 – Giuliani meets with Ukrainian leaders
Giuliani travels to Kyiv, where he has had business dealings in the past, to make a speech on democracy and the rule of law at the foundation of billionaire Ukrainian metals oligarch Victor Pinchuk, During this visit to Kyiv, he meets with Poroshenko and Lutsenko, among other officials, Subsequently a joint US House committee investigation will cite the meetings as part of Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine.
July 25, 2017 – Trump tweets about “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage the Trump campaign–quietly working to boost Clinton. Where is the A.G.?”
The tweet will be referenced in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on possible obstruction of justice by the U.S. president to block the investigation into Trump campaign collusion with Russia’s 2016 election interference. It also is cited in the September 2019 joint U.S. House committee letter on the investigation into Trump and Giuliani’s pressure campaign against Ukraine.
Late 2018 — Giuliani is being helped by two Soviet-born Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who arrange a Skype call between Giuliani and Shokin, published in BuzzFeed News. The two businessmen also connect Giuliani with then-Prosecutor General Lutsenko. Giuliani invites Lutsenko to his office in New York, a meeting they arrange for January.
January 2019 — Giuliani and Lutsenko hold several meetings in New York.
Bloomberg News reports, paraphrasing Lutsenko. “Giuliani asked him about investigations into the owner of Burisma, Mykola Zlochevsky, as well as whether the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was `not loyal to President Trump,’” the article says.
Mid-February 20March 19 — Giuliani meets with Lutsenko again in Warsaw, according to the OCCRP/BuzzFeed report.
Volker is aware of emerging negative narrative about Ukraine
During the early months of 2019, Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker becomes aware of two “emerging negative narratives” emanating from Lutsenko, who aside from meeting Giuliani is giving press interviews that conservative media is picking up on. One narrative is that the democrats in 2016 worked with Ukrainians to get dirt on the Trump campaign. And the other is that Hunter Biden was given a sweet deal on the board of Burisma to curry favor with the US administration. Volker will later say: I believed that these accusations by Mr. Lutsenko were themselves self-serving, intended to make himself appear valuable to the United States, so that the United States might weigh in against his being removed from office by the new government.” Many others would come to the same conclusion — but not Rudy Giuliani, who latched on to Lutsenko’s narrative and began replaying it to President Trump and anyone who would listen.
March 20, 2019 – The Hill’s conservative opinion writer John Solomon publishes an interview with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Lutsenko in which Lutsenko claims to have been given a “do not prosecute” list by the US Ambassador.
The State Department says the claim is “an outright fabrication.” Lutsenko also reportedly says he would investigate the head of NABU for the 2016 Manafort disclosure. (Ukraine expert Melinda Haring of the Atlantic Council says Lutsenko has dragged his feet on every serious anti-corruption case since being installed, and protected his friends, including Poroshenko.” She continues, “Sean Hannity made Solomon the star of his prime-time show that evening. Trump watches Hannity, reportedly speaks with him multiple times daily, and tweeted the title of Solomon’s story. More than 25,000 retweets later, the Ukrainian collusion narrative went viral.”
Note that Solomon and Fox News’s Sean Hannity are among the many conservative media figures who regularly help spread Trump and Giuliani’s Biden and Manafort theories as well as other right-wingconspiracytheories, such as Uranium One, many of which have been debunked and/or have been shown to exclude vital information. The controversial Solomonwill eventually be moved to the opinion section at The Hill, and will announce on Sept. 18, 2019, that he is leaving the publication.
March 24, 2019 – Donald Trump Jr. tweets a critique of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovitch. He calls her a “joker” and links to a conservative media outlet’s article about calls for her ouster. In May 2019 Yovanovitch will be permanently recalled to Washington.
March 31, 2019 — Zelenskyy and Poroshenko take the top two spots in elections; runoff is scheduled for April 21.
April 1, 2019 – John Solomon publishes an article in The Hill that advances the Trump-Giuliani story about Biden and reports that Shokin had said in written answers to questions that he had planned an investigation of Burisma before he was fired, including questioning all executive board members. This article in picked up and replayed significantly throughout conservative media.
April 2019 – Hunter Biden leaves the board of Burisma Holdings.
April 21, 2019 – Zelenskyy is elected on a “zero tolerance” anti-corruption agenda.
April 21, 2019 – First Trump-Zelenskyy Phone Call
In the call Trump “urged Mr. Zelensky to coordinate with Mr. Giuliani and to pursue investigations of ‘corruption,’” according to New York Times reports (on Sept. 25, 2019).
April 24, 2019 — Giuliani Tweets “Keep and eye on Ukraine.”
April 25, 2019 – Joe Biden formally announces campaign for President.
April 25, 2019 – Trump tells Fox News’s Sean Hannity that Attorney General Bill Barr is considering allegations that Ukrainians sought to help Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign by revealing damaging information about Paul Manafort. (transcript).
May 1, 2019 — Attorney General William Barr stumbles and appears to try to avoid answering U.S. Senator Kamala Harris during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing when she asks, “Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?” He finally states in his answer, “I don’t know.”
April 29, 2019: According to the whistleblower, US officials with direct knowledge of the matter tell him/her that U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch is being “suddenly recalled” to Washington for “consultations” and “would most likely be removed from her position.”
May 6, 2019: State Department announces that Yovanovitch would be ending her assignment. The announcement says it is “as planned,” but in fact, her assignment has been curtailed because of Lutsenko’s allegations. Giuliani told a Ukrainian journalist in an interview published May 14 that Yovanovitch was “removed…because she was part of the efforts against the President,” the whistleblower wrote.
May 7, 2019 — In Kyiv, Sergii Leshchenko, then an MP and a journalist by profession, said Giuliani intends to gather incriminating evidence on Biden. Leshchenko also demonstrated a document that, according to him, was passed by Lutsenko’s entourage to Trump’s lawyer.It read that in March 2014, through lobbying channels, Zlochevsky allegedly invited U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden to “distribute profits at Burisma.” This money was allegedly paid to Biden’s son and a friend of Kerry’s adopted son, Devon Archer. (Kyiv Post)
Early May 2019: Whistleblower writes that he “learned from a U.S. official around this time that `associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team.” He didn’t know whether the associates were the same two businessmen (Parnas and Fruman who connected Giuliani with Shokin and Lutsenko.
May 9, 2019 – Giuliani tells the New York Times he plans to travel to Kyiv and meet with President-elect Zelenskyy to urge him to investigate the Bidens as well as Ukrainians who might have worked with Hillary Clinton’s campaign to reveal the Manafort information. “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani tells the newspaper. “There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper.”
The Times notes the trip is “part of a months-long effort by the former New York mayor and a small group of Trump allies working to build interest in the Ukrainian inquiries. Their motivation is to try to discredit the special counsel’s investigation; undermine the case against Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s imprisoned former campaign chairman; and potentially to damage Mr. Biden, the early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.” The news ignites a firestorm of bipartisan condemnation that Giuliani is improperly seeking the help of a foreign government to benefit Trump’s re-election campaign.
In a later editorial for the Washington Post (on Sept. 21, 2019), former Ukrainian anti-corruption activist and member of Parliament Serhiy Leshchenko writes:
“Giuliani attempted to visit Ukraine in May 2019 with the express purpose of involving Zelensky [cq] in this process. His aim was quite clear: He was planning to ask Zelensky to intervene in an American election on the side of Trump.
I had been helping Zelenksy’s team since January
As a person who has had direct experience of many of these events, I express my readiness to testify to the U.S. Congress about what has been happening for the past six months.”
May 9, 2019 – Giuliani, in an interview with Fox News, says he received such information supporing his theory of Ukrainian collusion with Hillary Clinton’s campaign “about three or four months ago.” Giuliani also discusses his theory about the Bidens in Ukraine, and he tries to implicate the U.S. Embassy in both.
May 10, 2019 – President Trump says in an interview with Politico, “Certainly it would be an appropriate thing” for him to ask Attorney General Barr to open an investigation on Biden.
May 11, 2019 – Giuliani cancels trip to Ukraine. The decision follows bipartisan backlash in the United States over Giuliani’s seeking foreign support for Trump’s re-election (see May 2 above).
Zelensky ally Serhiy Leshchenko and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst say Zelenskyy actually had declined Giuliani’s request for a meeting, which could explain Giuliani’s tone of rejection. Herbst commented, “My understanding is that the president-elect’s party and his group said that the President-elect [Zelenskyy] sees no reason to have a meeting about an issue which is so transparently an American domestic political issue.”
Mid-may 2019 — according to the whistleblower, President Trump instructs Vice President Mike Pence “to cancel his planned trip to Ukraine to attend President Zelenskyy’s inauguration. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry led the U.S. delegation instead.”
May 14, 2019 – Lutsenko tells Bloomberg News that he has “no evidence of wrongdoing” by either of the Bidens.
He goes on to say that neither Hunter Biden nor Burisma are the focus of any current investigation. He says he plans to give U.S. authorities information about Burisma board payments, so that the U.S. could check whether Hunter Biden had paid taxes on his income.
May 20-24, 2019 – Zelenskyy is inaugurated as president, taking over from Poroshenko. Shortly afterwards, the whistleblower writes, “it was publicly reported that Mr. Giuliani met with two other Ukrainian officials: Ukraine’s Special Anticorruption Prosecutor, Mr. Nazar Kholodnytskyy, and a former Ukrainian diplomat named Andriy Telizhenko.”
(Public reports of these meetings included Ukrainian and US media outlets.) The whistleblower claims they “are allies of Mr. Lutsenko and made similar allegations” in a series of articles in The Hill. The two former Soviet (now US citizen) businessmen Parnas and Fruman who connected Giuliani with Shokin and Lutsenko (see entry for “late 2018”) reportedly join the meeting with Giuliani and Kholodnytskyy in Paris.
Mid May to early July – The whistleblower states “multiple U.S. officials told me that the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelenskyy would depend on whether Zelenskyy showed willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani.”
June 11, 2019 – Zelenskyy sends a motion to Parliament asking that it dismiss sitting Prosecutor General Lutsenko.
June 13, 2019 –– In an interview with George Stephanopolos, President Trump famously says he would accept dirt on his political rivals from a foreign government.
June 21, 2019 — Giuliani tweets, “New Pres of Ukraine still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 election and alleged Biden bribery of Pres Poroshenko. Time for leadership and investigate both if you want to purge how Ukraine was abused by Hillary and Obama people.”
Early to mid-July – Trump orders suspension and review of U.S. aid to Ukraine
The Washington Post reports President Trump tells his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to hold back almost $400 million in aid to Ukraine. The decision is communicated by OMB to State and Defense department officials on July 18. The Post includes details of internal processes, including that “besides Bolton [the president’s national security adviser], several other administration officials said they did not know why the aid was being canceled or why a meeting was not being scheduled.”
About July 19, 2019 — Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelenskyy, reportedly requests assistance from the State Department’s special envoy for Ukraine negotiations, Kurt Volker, to be put in touch with Giuliani. On July 19, Volker sends a text message to Giuliani saying, “Mr. Mayor—really enjoyed breakfast this morning. As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky.”
Yermak speaks with Giuliani for the first time by phone. They discuss the Trump-Giuliani demands for investigations and the new Ukrainian leader’s desire for a White House meeting to affirm continued U.S. support for Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal reports “Yermak called Mr. Giuliani to ask him to tone it down, according to a person familiar with the call. Mr. Giuliani in response suggested that Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma,”
July 23-26, 2019 — The whistleblower writes: “During interagency meetings on 23 July and 26 July, OMB officials again stated explicitly that the instruction to suspend this assistance had come directly from the President, but they still were unaware of a policy rationale.”
July 25, 2019 — Trump and Zelenskyy speak by phone for the first time since the call on May 20.
The two presidents have their second conversation. An English-language press release issued by Zelenskyy’s office about the call says:
“Donald Trump is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”
The White House will eventually release a transcript of the call which confirm[s the whistleblower’s account, showing Trump raising the Bidens and pushing for an investigation. Before the release of the transcript, Trump admits he discussed Biden on the call (see Sept. 22 below) and says U.S. funding for Ukraine is at stake (see Sept. 22-23 below).
July 26, 2019 — U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker meets with Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Volker is accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. According to the whistleblower’s complaint, the two advise the Ukrainian leader on “how to `navigate’ the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy.”
July 28, 2019 – Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats submits his resignation, effective Aug. 15.
July 31, 2019 – Giuliani meets in New York with Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who is in a power struggle with Zelenskyy over a second title he holds as head of the city’s administration.
Aug. 2, 2019 – Giuliani meets in Madrid with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Zelenskyy.
Giuliani flies to Madrid to press Yermak, for an investigation of the Bidens as well as a probe of the allegation that Ukrainians conspired with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016 to release damaging information about Paul Manafort. The whistleblower writes that the Madrid meeting is a “direct followup’” to the July 25 Trump-Zelenskyy phone call and specifically to their discussion of the cases the U.S. president raised in that conversation, From Madrid, Giuliani resurfaces his allegations against the Bidens in a tweet on Aug. 3 in which he says “The Politico coverup article doesn’t mention the bribery of Ukraine Pres. by then VP Biden to get the case against his son dismissed.”
Giuliani subsequently has said Yermak seemed open to considering the investigations, but also pressed for a Trump-Zelenskyy meeting as a sign of continued U.S. support to Ukraine in its war against Russia and its economic development and internal reform efforts. “I talked to him about the whole package,” Giuliani told the Washington Post. The Post reported that “U.S. officials and members of the Trump administration wanted the meeting [between the two Presidents] to go ahead, but Trump personally rejected efforts to set it up, according to three people familiar with the discussions.”
Aug. 12, 2019 – The whistleblower files a complaint to Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson related to an alleged “urgent concern” that news reports later reveal likely centers on activities involving President Trump and Ukraine.
August 12-26 — The ICIG conducts a required preliminary review and determines the complaint meets the definition of an “urgent concern” and is credible, and forwards it on Aug. 26 to Acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire, who under the law was required to transmit the complaint to the congressional intelligence committees within seven days.
The Justice Department, however, takes the position that the statute does not apply on the ground that the complaint does not involve “an intelligence activity within the responsibility and authority of the Director of National Intelligence.” The complaint remains under wraps until House Intelligence Committee Chairman reveals its existence on Sept. 13 (see below).
Aug. 15, 2019 – DNI Coats leaves office. Principal Deputy Director Sue Gordon resigns too, after it became clear that Trump would not select her to succeed Coats.
Aug. 26, 2019 – The Inspector General forwards the intelligence community whistleblower complaint to Acting DNI Maguire.
Aug. 28, 2019 – Then-U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton becomes the first high-level Trump administration official to visit Kyiv since President Zelenskyy’s inauguration. Bolton says the two discussed a possible meeting between the two presidents during a trip Trump planned at the time to Poland.
Aug. 28, 2019 – Politico breaks the news that President Trump was delaying the distribution of $250 million of fiscal 2019 security assistance that Ukraine needs to fight its war with Russia on its eastern flank, by asking his administration to review how it was being spent.
The hold on the aid package is taking place at the same time as Trump and Giuliani are agitating publicly for Ukraine to investigate Biden. The Department of Defense determined that the support should continue and informed the White House of its recommendation, according to Politico and CNN. National Security Adviser John Bolton also wanted to release the funds to help Ukraine curtail Russian aggression, the Washington Post reports.
Aug. 29, 2019 – Zelenskyy appoints lawyer and former Deputy Minister of Justice Ruslan Riaboshapka as the new prosecutor general, replacing Yuriy Lutsenko, who steps down the same day.
Sept. 2019 – The Wall Street Journal reports, “Ukrainian officials earlier this month expressed concern to U.S. senators that the aid had been held up as a penalty for resisting that pressure.”
Sept. 2, 2019 – Vice President Mike Pence, a day after meeting with the new Ukrainian president, doesn’t directly answer a reporter’s question about whether he can assure Ukrainians that the delay in $250 million of U.S. security assistance for Ukraine is unrelated to President Trump’s and Rudy Giuliani’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.
Sept. 5, 2019 — New Prosecutor General Ruslan Riaboshapka brings Vitaliy Kasko back to the office as First Deputy Prosecutor General, a move that promises to help restore integrity to the office. Kasko is the former deputy of Shokin’s who had quit out of frustration.
Sept. 9, 2019 Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson informs House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and Ranking Member Devin Nunes of the whistleblower complaint’s existence (full text of the Inspector General’s letter)
Sept. 9, 2019 – Three U.S. House committees launch probe into Trump and Giuliani pressure campaign
The House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight and Reform committees announce a joint investigation of Trump and Giuliani’s alleged efforts to strongarm Ukraine into pursuing two investigations for the president’s political gain, including by threatening to withhold $250 million in security assistance. The joint press release says public records show the efforts have continued “for nearly two years” and were conducted “under the guise of anti-corruption activity.”
Sept. 11, 2019 – Trump releases the hold on U.S. security assistance to Ukraine
The release comes at a time when the White House is aware of the whistleblower report, and two days before the existence will be revealed publicly.
Sept. 13, 2019 – Intelligence community whistleblower complaint revealed
House Intelligence Committee Chair Schiff announces that he has issued a subpoena to Acting DNI Maguire to obtain a complaint from a whistleblower filed under the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act (ICWPA) that, under the law, should have been provided to the congressional intelligence committees. Schiff says he is concerned the complaint is being withheld “to cover up serious misconduct” and “to protect the President or other Administration officials.”
Sept. 17, 2019 – The Inspector General for the Intelligence Community sends letter to House Intelligence Chairman Schiff and Ranking Member Nunes outlining his disagreement with the administration’s decision to withhold the whistleblower’s complaint from the congressional intelligence committees.
The Inspector General’s letter states, “the subject matter involved in the complainant’s disclosure not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.”
Sept. 18, 2019 – Vice President Pence speaks with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy by phone, discussing a scheduled meeting between the two presidents during the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York the following week. Pence “commended President Zelenskyy’s administration for its bold action to tackle corruption through legislative reforms, and offered full U.S. support for those efforts,” according to a U.S. Embassy statement.
Sept. 20, 2019 – A senior advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Minister challenges Trump to make official U.S. government request if he wants an investigation of Biden. The adviser, Anton Geraschenko, told The Daily Beast that “currently there is no open investigation.” He adds, “Clearly, Trump is now looking for kompromat to discredit his opponent Biden, to take revenge for his friend Paul Manafort, who is serving seven years in prison.”
Sept. 22, 2019 – After days of insisting there was nothing inappropriate about his telephone call with Zelenskyy, President Trump acknowledges discussing Joe Biden with the Ukrainian leader during their July 25 phone call. “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Mr. Trump told reporters.
Sept. 22 and 23, 2019 – Trump himself connects phone call on Biden to US aid to Ukraine
President Trump, in two sets of remarks to reporters asking about his July 25 phone call with Zelenskyy, appears to confirm a connection between U.S. financial assistance for Ukraine and his pressure for the country’s leaders to pursue the investigations he wants.
On Sept. 22 Trump says, “Certainly I’d have every right to [raise Biden with the Ukrainian President] if there’s corruption and we are paying lots of money to a country.”
Trump has repeatedly referred to what he falsely claims the Bidens to have done as “corruption.” “It’s very important to talk about corruption,” Trump tells the reporters on Sept. 23. “If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt?…It’s very important that on occasion you speak to somebody about corruption.”
Sept. 23, 2019 – The chairmen of the three House committees conducting the joint investigation into Trump and Giuliani’s efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government write Secretary of State Pompeo demanding he turn over the documents the committees had requested on Sept. 9.
The letter characterizes Trump’s actions as “seeking to enlist a foreign actor to interfere with an American election,” and says, “if press reports are accurate, such corrupt use of presidential power for the President’s personal political interest – and not for the national interest – is a betrayal of the President’s oath of office and cannot go unchecked.” The chairmen note the earlier deadline of Sept. 16 to produce the material had passed and give a new deadline of Sept. 26 to notify the committees whether the State Department intends to comply.