Politics - News Analysis

Ukrainian President Was Booked to Announce His Investigation of Biden on CNN — Until Trump Was Caught

According to the New York Times, Ukraine’s president was booked to make a statement about opening an investigation into the Biden family in a CNN interview before fate intervened.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s staffers had reportedly conceded it was inevitable that he’d have to bow to Donald Trump’s demands to announce investigations against his political enemies or permanently lose millions of dollars in military aid.

Aides were approached in September by Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who made clear there was little chance of aid being given until there was a public statement.

Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to speak on CNN, and Zelensky’s staff planned for him to make an announcement on Sept. 13 in an interview with the network’s Fareed Zakaria.

However, two days before the scheduled interview, news of the military aid delay leaked and Congress was furious. The Trump administration was forced to release the aid and the spot was canceled, according to the report. “The Zelensky team was ready to make this quid quo pro,” said Petro Burkovskiy, an academic who has close ties to the Ukrainian government.

From the NYT:

Mr. Trump wanted the Ukrainian president to speak on CNN, William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, testified.

But aides to Mr. Zelensky, on high alert to avoid any move that might irritate Mr. Trump, wondered if that was such a good idea, in that Mr. Trump habitually called CNN “fake news” in his Twitter posts.

They also uncovered a post from Mr. Trump attacking Fox News as “not working for us anymore!”

Word of the freeze in military aid had leaked out, and Congress was in an uproar. Two days before the scheduled interview, the Trump administration released the assistance and Mr. Zelensky’s office quickly canceled the interview.


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