Ukraine president: 'No blackmail' in conversation with Trump

Cheryl Sanders
October 12, 2019

Ukraine's president insisted Thursday that he faced "no blackmail" from President Donald Trump in their phone call that led to an impeachment inquiry, distancing himself from the USA political drama and trying to claw back his own credibility.

The US president said that the military aid was withheld because Kiev has not done enough to fight corruption, but the move has prompted Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry.

The July call is central to the impeachment inquiry, and embarrassed Zelenskiy because it showed him as eager to please Trump and critical of European partners whose support he needs to strengthen Ukraine's economy and to end the conflict with Russian Federation.

Trump asked Zelenskiy during the call to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden, and Congressional Democrats believe Trump was holding up the aid to use as leverage to pressure Ukraine.

Then-Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Kyiv on January 16, 2017. Poroshenko ousted the prosecutor based on the threat that aid would be withheld if he didn't, Joe Biden bragged previous year.

Trump has denied he did anything wrong, calling his conversation with Zelensky "perfect". "We are not servants". 'We are an independent country, we have relations with many countries, ' not just the United States, he said. He was speaking at an event in Kiev.

Zelenskiy wouldn't say whether the Ukrainians have a different version of the transcript or whether the White House version accurately reflects the content of the leaders' conversation.

On Wednesday a poll by Fox News, which is supportive of the president, found that 51% of voters are in favour of impeaching Mr Trump and removing him from office.

Trump's second son, Eric Trump, wrote that Hunter Biden, "with no industry knowledge or duties, was being paid $600,000 annually. He has disappeared while the Fake News protects his Crooked daddy!"

In any case, this report makes clear that the concerns about American policy toward Ukraine and its connection to other things going on in American politics was a concern long before that phone call.

"I'm against corruption", Zelenskiy told Llamas.

Zelensky said the phone call will not affect relations between Washington and Kiev.

Zelensky on Thursday invited USA and Ukrainian prosecutors to cooperate on an eventual investigation into the Bidens, but insisted he would not interfere.

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hold a meeting in NY on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2019.

"I don't want to be pulled into this because I understand that my words could impact the elections of the American people", he added.

In the July call, Trump sought help on two fronts.

Ukraine's top prosecutor, meanwhile, said on October 4 that his office is reviewing cases that were closed in the past, including cases against Burisma.

The security officials - at least four of them - raised their concerns with National Security Council legal advisor John Eisenberg, the Post said, citing U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter.

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