Background to Trump’s Ukraine phone call
September 27, 2019 - President Donald Trump’s call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy asked him to investigate the actions of potential 2020 presidential rival, former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
Now, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is opening an impeachment inquiry against Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has accused Trump of betraying his office by seeking help from a foreign power to damage a political rival.
After Joe Biden became vice president in 2009, his son Hunter Biden, a lawyer by training, pursued business opportunities abroad. Between April 2014 and April 2019, Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma Holdings -- a Ukrainian natural gas company owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky.
In 2014, Burisma came under criminal investigation by Ukrainian prosecutors over alleged tax violations. Zlochevsky, who had served as Ukraine’s environment minister under President Viktor Yanukovych, was also under investigation by Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). The SFO alleged that he had embezzled public funds while in office. Zlochevsky has denied any wrongdoing.
The SFO had also frozen $23 million in Zlochevsky’s bank accounts as part of a money-laundering investigation. In January 2015, the British case collapsed due to lack of support from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, and a court released the seized funds.
Joe Biden made around a dozen visits to Kyiv as point man for the International Monetary Fund in a bid to tackle corruption.
At one point in December 2015, Biden called for more aggressive anti-corruption efforts against officials, including Zlochevsky, by Shokin. Biden called for Shokin to be ousted from office and threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan guarantee.
Now, Trump has told the Ukrainian leader to work with Attorney General William Barr and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, to dig dirt on the Bidens. Democrats claim it is a bid to cast a fog of suspicion over Biden’s candidacy.
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