Ukraine president denies Trump 'blackmailed' him to investigate Biden

Clay Curtis
October 12, 2019

Zelensky said at a "marathon" press conference in Ukraine's capital on Thursday that he didn't know at the time of the call that the US had blocked hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

The former comedian who won a massive victory in the Ukrainian elections in April despite having no political experience has tried to distance himself from the political battle brewing in Washington where the US House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry against Trump.

He also said he will not publish the Ukrainian transcript of the July phone call. There was no blackmail'.

Zelensky, however, denied any allegations that President Trump attempted to "blackmail" him to open investigations, saying he didn't even know that hundreds of millions of dollars worth of US aid had been delayed until after he spoke with Trump on July 25.

At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration's attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump's July 25 call with that country's president, according to USA officials and other people familiar with the matter.

But the deference Mr. Zelensky showed to Mr. Trump on the July 25 call raises questions about how he would fare in one-on-one negotiations with Mr. Putin, the former KGB agent who has ruled Russian Federation for two decades. The White House released a non-verbatim transcript of the call last month, which, along with a related anonymous whistleblower complaint, sparked an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. But the pullback, originally scheduled for 7 October, has not happened yet because Ukraine accused the separatists of shelling its positions and said it would only withdraw after a straight week of full ceasefire observance.

Zelenskiy said the USA has not provided any details of such interference.

'And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country's security, we use all our powerful possibilities.' He didn't elaborate.

Officials told the Post that shortly after the call took place, national security adviser John Bolton and other senior officials were being contacted by subordinates with problems about what Trump had said to Zelensky. Zelensky is trying to save his reputation and distance himself from the US political drama.

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He went on to say the call "wasn't linked to weapons or the story with Burisma", the company that employed Hunter.

Zelenskiy said the "key question" for him was to try to persuade the White House to "change its rhetoric" about Ukraine as a corrupt and untrustworthy country.

He added that there were no "conditions" from the U.S. side to set up the meeting.

He said he had "several calls" with Trump, but bristled at repeated questions about their relationship.

"We didn't speak about it", he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin lamented Friday the inability of his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to ensure a pullback of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine as the first step toward peace settlement. Ukrainian President is holding an all-day "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court amid growing questions about his actions as president.

Trump's personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani also alleges some officials in Ukraine conspired to help Trump's Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton. No evidence of such a plot has emerged. The theory contends, without evidence, that the DNC hack was based on fabricated computer records and created to cast blame on Russian Federation but was initiated from Ukraine.

Trump has said the United States has an "absolute right" to ask foreign leaders to investigate corruption cases.

Zelenskiy also joked about Trump's Twitter missives, saying he doesn't expect a change in U.S.

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