January 2019 — Giuliani is being helped by two Soviet-born Florida businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, to make connections in Ukraine.
Parnas and Fruman 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. Giuliani has skype and phone contacts with both Shokin and Lutsenko — the two prosecutors.
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. Lutsenko has negative things to say about Yovanovich, claiming she gave him an “untouchables” list of people he could not prosecute.
Mid-February through March 19 — Giuliani meets with Lutsenko again in Warsaw, according to the OCCRP/BuzzFeed report.
Jan – March 2019 US Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker is becoming aware of emerging negative narrative about Ukraine
According to his written opening statement to congress, in 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 in his written testimony to Congress: 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 Solomon will 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 says: “Calls Grow To Remove Obama’s U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine.”
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
Solomon 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 an 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).
This theory is not new and involves Alexandra Chalupa, a UkrainianAmerican operative “who was allegedly consulting for the Democratic National Committee” and who reportedly met with Ukrainian officials during the presidential election for the express purpose of
exposing alleged ties between then-candidate Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, and Russia.
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 Yovanovitchhas ended 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 : Volker reaches out to Giuliani and warns re Lutsenko not reliable
From VOLKER STATEMENT:
In May, 2019, I learned that former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani planned to travel to Ukraineto look into these accusations. I reached out to brief him before his visit – specifically, to tell him that Lutsenko is not credible and will be replaced once a new government takes office, and that I had met with President-elect Zelenskyy when he was a candidate, had subsequently been in touch with his advisors, and was convinced that he was sincerely committed to reform and fighting corruption in Ukraine. We had a brief phone call, which ended as Mayor Giuliani needed to attend to another meeting or call. I texted afterward to offer to finish the conversation, but we did not speak again at that time. I later read that he canceled his trip, and that he asserted that President-elect Zelenskyy was surrounded by “enemies of the United States” – something with which I fundamentally disagreed.
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.”
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.
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 20, 2019 — Volker travels to Ukraine with Rick Perry, Gordon Sondland, and Senator Ron Johnson for inauguration of Zelensky .
From VOLKER STATEMENT
On May 20, I visited Ukraine as part of the U.S. Presidential Delegation to the Inauguration ofthe new President. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry led the delegation, and we were also joined by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson. I do not recall any of the Lutsenko accusations coming up in the course of our meetings withUkrainian officials. Instead, we had a very productive meeting with President Zelenskyy about his commitment to reform. He announced early Parliamentary elections that same day. We came away convinced that he was sincere about massive reform in Ukraine, would face significant internal opposition, and that he deserved strong U.S. support. We decided to seek a meeting with President Trump upon our return to the United States to brief him on our impressions and recommendations following the visit.
May 20, 2019 – Zelenskyy is inaugurated as president, taking over from Poroshenko.
May 22-24 According to the whistleblower, Giuliani holds meetings with two Ukrainian officials.
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.”
July 2, 2019 — Volker meets Zelensky in Toronto, notes growing problem re Giuliani
From VOLKER STATEMENT
On July 2, I met with President Zelenskyy and his delegation in Toronto, Canada, as I was the
senior U.S. Representative attending a conference about reform in Ukraine. At the end of that meeting, I had a private conversation with President Zelenskyy, in which I explained that I believed that Mayor Giuliani continues to have a negative view of Ukraine based on assertions
of actions that happened in 2016, and that this viewpoint is likely making its way to the President. I made clear that Mayor Giuliani does not speak for the U.S. government, but is a private citizen and the President’s personal attorney. I stressed that those of us on the Presidential Delegation at his Inauguration understood that President Zelenskyy and his team had nothing to do with anything that happened in 2016, and that the best thing would be to have a bilateral meeting with President Trump. I said that as soon as that meeting would take place, I was confident that President Trump would be as impressed with President Zelenskyy as I and the others on our delegation had been, and that
our bilateral relationship would flourish. It was clear to me that we had a growing problem in the negative narrative about Ukraine, built on these earlier accusations by Mr. Lutsenko, that was impeding the development of our bilateral relationship and the strengthening of our support for Ukraine. I therefore faced a choice: do nothing, and allow this situation to fester; or try to fix it. I tried to fix it.
Early to mid-July 2019 – 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.”
July 10, 2019 — Volker meets with Zelensky aid Andrey Yermak in Washington
From VOLKER STATEMENT
On July 10, 2019, I met a close aide to President Zelenskyy, Andrey Yermak, for coffee in Washington DC. We followed up the conversation about Mayor Giuliani, and he asked me to connect to him with Mayor Giuliani. I agreed to reach out to Mayor Giuliani and ask if he would agree to be connected. I did so – on July 10 writing to Mayor Giuliani to seek to get together,
July 18, 2019 — Volker learns security assistance suspended
From VOLKER STATEMENT
On July 18, I was informed that at an interagency (sub-PCC) meeting, OMB had said that there was a hold being placed on Congressional Notifications about security assistance to Ukraine. No reason was given.
July 19, 2019 — Volker meets Giuliani
From VOLKER STATEMENT
At that breakfast, Mr. Giuliani was accompanied by Ukrainian-Amercian businessman Lev Parnas. We had a long conversation about Ukraine. To my surprise, Mr. Giuliani had already come to the conclusion on his own that Mr. Lutsenko was not credible and acting in a selfserving capacity. He mentioned both the accusations about Vice President Biden and about interference in the 2016 election, and stressed that all he wanted to see was for Ukraine to investigate what happened in the past and apply its own laws. I stressed my view that the current President of Ukraine is sincerely committed to rooting out corruption and reforming Ukraine. It is the best chance Ukraine has had to move forward in a
generation, and he deserves U.S. support.
July 19 — After the meeting, Volker sends a text to Giuliani: “Mr. Mayor—really enjoyed breakfast this morning. As discussed, connecting you here with Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky.” He then connects Yermak and Giuliani via text.
It is not yet clear what else they said in this conversation.
July 19 VOLKER TEXT: Sondland Briefs Zelensky Ahead of Call with President Trump
July 21, 2019 — Parliemantary Elections are held in the Ukraine and Zelensky’s “Servant of the People Party” wins a majority
July 23, 2019 – Volker travels to Ukraine.
From VOLKER STATEMENT
I departed for a long-planned trip to Ukraine on July 23. I had avoided going to Ukraine duringthe course of the Parliamentary election campaign, just as I had during the Presidential run-off, to avoid any possible perception of U.S. intervention in the Ukrainian elections. The Parliamentary election took place on July 21, so I felt I could visit afterwards, congratulate the President, and visit the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine, something I did each year. I particularly wanted to support President Zelenskyy’s decision to pull back Ukrainian forces at Stanitsia Luhanska and to urge Russian forces to do the same.
During this time, I had also been urging that the President make a congratulatory phone call
after the Parliamentary election – especially since we still did not have a date for a White House visit. A congratulatory call would keep the relationship warm.
July 21 — VOLKER TEXT: Ambassador Taylor texts Sondland that Zelensky “is sensitive about Ukraine being taken seriously, not merely as an instrument in Washington domestic, reelection politics.”
July 22, 2019 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 23, 2019 — a “higher level” interagency meeting is held concerning the security assistance.
From VOLKER STATEMENT
A higher level interagency meeting (PCC) was then scheduled to take place to discuss the issue
on July 23. I met in advance with the individual who would represent the State Department at that meeting, Assistant Secretary of State for Pol-Mil Affairs, R. Clarke Cooper. I stressed how important it was to keep the security assistance moving – for Ukraine’s self-defense, deterrence of further Russian aggression, as a symbol of our bilateral support for Ukraine, and as part of having a strong position going into any negotiations with Russia. He fully agreed and intended to represent that position at the PCC meeting. I also had separate conversations with the Pentagon and NSC staff to reiterate the same position. I was told later that there was no outcome from the PCC meeting. That said, I was not overly concerned about the development because I believed the decision would ultimately be reversed. Everything from the force of law to the unanimous position of the House, Senate,
Pentagon, State Department, and NSC staff argued for going forward, and I knew it would just be a matter of time.
July 25, 2019 in Kiev (8 hours ahead of Washington) Volker meets with Yermak before the call with President Trump.
From VOLKER STATEMENT
We had meetings all day in Kyiv on July 25, including lunch with Mr. Yermak, and then met withPresident Zelenskyy on July 26. U.S. Chargé Amb. Taylor and I then visited the conflict zone later that same day. We spoke to the press in Stanitsia Luhanska on July 26, and I gave a press conference in Kyiv on July 27.
COMMENT: This portion of Volker’s statement seems to be less than forthcoming. Clearly it is important to know exactly what he said to Yermak in advance, and what happened after the call. He seems to be avoiding this. We are left to infer what happened from a text he sent Yermak after the meeting (see below).
July 25, 2019 VOLKER TEXT: Volker advises Yermak ahead of Trump Zelensky Call
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 25, Concerns at White House in the Immediate Aftermath of the Call
On Oct 8, 2019 CNN reported at leasst one NSC official reached out to White House NSC lawyers to raise concerns about the call. In the immediate aftermath, there were questions if they should call Justice Department and alert Barr to how the President had referenced Barr repeatedly in the call.
July 25-26, 2019 — Volker learns little about the call, and is not on it.
From VOLKER STATEMENT
I was not on the July 25 phone call. I received a general readout via our Chargé and my own State Dept. staffer, as well as from Mr. Yermak. All said it was a good, congratulatory call, that they discussed the importance of fighting corruption and promoting reform in Ukraine, and that President Trump reiterated his invitation to President Zelenskyy to visit the White House. I was not made aware of any reference to Vice President Biden or his son, which I only learned about when the transcript of the call was released on September 25, 2019.
July 26, 2019 — 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.”
NOTE: Ambassador Volker’s account in his statement is silent on this.
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 Zelensky.
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.”
From the VOLKER STATEMENT
After they met, both Mayor Giuliani and Mr. Yermak called me to give me their impressions.Both were positive. Neither said anything about Vice President Biden. Mayor Giuliani said that he had stressed the importance of Ukraine conducting investigations into what happened in the past, and Mr. Yermak stressed that he told Mayor Giuliani it is the government’s program to root out corruption and implement reforms, and they would be conducting investigations as part of this process anyway.
Aug 7, 2019 — Giuliani, Volker, and Sondland talk — first mention of Ukraine statement.
From VOLKER STATEMENT
Later, possibly on August 7, Mayor Giuliani called both me and Amb. Gordon Sondland to provide a more detailed readout [of his 2 Aug call with Yermak]. We expressed our hope that Mayor Giuliani would convey to the President his positive impression of the new leadership in Ukraine, and reassure the President that the advice he was getting from us – to schedule the White House visit of President Zelenskyy – was the right thing to do. Mayor Giuliani then said he believed the Ukrainian President needed to make a statement about fighting corruption, and that he had discussed this with Mr. Yermak. I said that I did not think this would be a problem, since that is the government’s position anyway.
Aug 7 or 8, 2019 — Volker talks to Yermak about the statement
From VOLKER STATEMENT
I followed up with Mr. Yermak, and he said that they would indeed be prepared to make a statement. He said it would reference Burisma and 2016, in a wider context of rooting out corruption anyway. There was no mention of Vice President Biden. Rather, in referencing Burisma, it was clear he was only talking about whether any Ukrainians had acted inappropriately.
Aug. 9, 2019 VOLKER TEXT: State Dept officials discuss a White House Visit and Ukraine Statement
Aug. 12, 2019 – The whistleblower files a complaint
The complaint goes to Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Michael Atkinson and alleges “urgent concern” relating to President Trump and the Ukraine, claiming that Trump is using the power of his office to pursue partisan political goals.
Aug. 13, 2019 — Last contact by Volker with Giuliani until Sep 20
From VOLKER STATEMENT
According to my records, the last contact I had with Mr. Giuliani about any of these things at that time was August 13.
Aug. 13, 2019 VOLKER TEXT: Discussion of Ukrainian statement to include references to 2016 Election and Burisma (meaning Biden) investigation
Aug. 16, 2019 — Yermak shares draft of statement, which is “generic”, with Volker
From VOLKER STATEMENT
On August 16, Mr. Yermak shared a draft with me, which I thought looked perfectly reasonable.It did not mention Burisma or 2016 elections, but was generic. I conveyed this draft to Amb. Sondland, who agreed it was an excellent statement. We had a further conversation with Mayor Giuliani, who said that in his view, the statement should include specific reference to “Burisma” and “2016.” Again, there was no mention of Vice President Biden in these conversations.
Amb. Sondland and I discussed these points, and I edited the draft statement by Mr. Yermak to include these points to see how it looked. I then discussed further with Mr. Yermak. He said that for a number of reasons – including the fact that Mr. Lutsenko was still officially the Prosecutor General — they do not want to mention Burisma and 2016. I agreed – and further said that I believe it is essential that Ukraine do nothing that could be seen as interfering in 2020 elections. It is bad enough that accusations have been made about 2016 – it is essential that Ukraine not be involved in anything relating to 2020. He agreed and the idea of putting out a statement was shelved. The point about Ukraine avoiding anything that could play into U.S. elections in 2020 is a message that I know our Chargé in Ukraine, Amb. Bill Taylor, reinforced in other meetings
Aug. 17 VOLKER TEXT: Volker and Sondland confirm that statement will reference 2016 Election and Burisma
Aug. 12-26 — The ICIG conducts a required preliminary review and determines the complaint meets the definition of an “urgent concern” and is credible.
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.
In forwarding, Atkinson notes that the statute calls for him to conduct a 14 day preliminary inquiry, and he is delivering the report exactly 14 days after receiving it. He will later testify to congress about the steps he took to corroborate keypoints of the report, and how/why he concluded the complaint was “credible and urgent.” Under the law, DNI McGuire “shall” forward to congress within seven days.
McGuire, however, elects to seek DOJ guidance due to unique questions that arise as a result of the President being the object of the complaint — an eventuality that was not envisioned in the statute.
The Justice Departmen 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. 30, 2019 VOLKER TEXT: Trump cancels trip to meet Zelensky
Aug. 28, 2019 – U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton becomes the first high-level Trump administration official to visit Kyiv since President Zelensky’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 1, 2019 — Vice President Mike Pence meets with Zelensky in Warsaw
Just before the Sept. 1 meeting with Zelensky in Warsaw, Pence declined to respond to a question from a reporter about whether the Trump administration would still allocate the security aid to Ukraine. “We will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine on your security, on territorial integrity,” he replied. In his meeting with Zelensky, Pence conveyed the news that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine was not going to be released amid concerns about the country’s lagging efforts to combat corruption. Pence would later claim he knew nothing about the Bidens and did not refer to them when speaking of “corruption.”
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. 8, 2019: Amb Taylor, Amb
Sondland, and Amb Volker talk, Career diplomat Taylor expresses concerns.
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 VOLKER TEXT: Amb Taylor famously says “it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”
COMMENT: Re the five hours before Sondland’s response, the New York Times and later CNN reported that Sondland called Trump and spoke to him in the interim between Taylor’s text and his response. It is important to be aware of where we are in the timeline — i.e. this is at a time when the White House, and Trump, were very aware of the whistleblower complaint.
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. 12, 2019 — Senior officials learn the military aid has been released.
The State Department learns the hold has been released. Deputy Assistant Secretary Brad Freden informs senior officials, stating that “in keeping with the spirit of the “hold” being a normal review, there will be no public announcement that it has been lifted.” Then, indicating an understanding of what’s really going on, he adds: “Keep moving, people, nothing to see here.”
Sept. 13, 2019 – Intelligence community whistleblower complaint revealed publicly
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.
They discuss 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 Zelensky, 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.
Sept. 25, 2019 – Trump and Zelenskyy meet at the UN.
To be continued.