Ukraine has opened a probe into alleged attempts by domestic government officials to interfere in the 2016 presidential elections in the United States to boost Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton’s chance of winning, the Eastern European nation’s top prosecutor told the Hill in an interview aired on Wednesday.
“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko told the Hill’s John Solomon.
The top prosecutor is reportedly investigating a claim from a local member of parliament (MP} that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election in the United States to skew the results in favor of Hillary Clinton.
“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” the top prosecutor proclaimed.
“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter,” he later added.
In an editorial published by the Hill Wednesday, Solomon noted that as the Trump-Russia collusion investigations fade, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s probe will focus on “whether his country’s law enforcement apparatus intentionally leaked financial records during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in an effort to sway the election in favor of Hillary Clinton.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State (DOS) confirmed that President Donald Trump’s administration is aware of the news reports about Sytnyk attempting to prop up Clinton during the 2016 elections.
The DOS spokesperson told the Hill:
We have always emphasized the need for deep, comprehensive, and timely reforms that respond to the demands the Ukrainian people made during the Revolution of Dignity: an end to systemic corruption, faster economic growth, and a European future for all Ukrainians.
We have consistently said that Ukraine’s long-term success and resilience depends on its commitment to reform, in particular the fight to address corruption. To succeed, Ukraine needs committed government officials and strong anti-corruption institutions. The United States is committed to engaging with our partners in Ukraine, including on efforts to roll back the persistent corruption that continues to threaten Ukraine’s national security, prosperity, and democratic development.
The top Ukrainian prosecutor’s bombshell revelation comes amid various investigations into alleged collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia that so far have failed to find any evidence of the alleged offense. A bipartisan investigation by the Senate and a more partisan one by the then-Republican-led House have found no evidence of collusion.
The American public is still waiting for the most high profile probe into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia — the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, which the president has dismissed as a witch hunt.
“Mueller is expected to present a report to the Justice Department any day now outlining the findings of his nearly two-year investigation into Russian election meddling, possible collusion with Trump campaign officials and possible obstruction of justice by Trump,” the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.
On Wednesday, President Trump told reporters he is looking forward to perusing the report’s findings, declaring that he also believes the conclusions should be made public.
“Let it come out, let people see it,” the American commander-in-chief declared. “Let’s see whether or not it’s legit.”
Several days before then President-elect Trump was inaugurated, Politico broke the story about the alleged Ukrainian ploy to benefit Hillary Clinton, revealing in January 2017:
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
Politico found that Lutsenko is not the only Ukrainian official willing to investigate the relationship between Clinton and Ukrainian officials.
Andrei Derkach, an independent Ukrainian lawmaker who was formerly aligned with a pro-Russian party, has also urged the country’ prosecutor general to “launch a pretrial investigation into ‘illegal interference in the election of President of the United States organized by a criminal organization,'” Politico reported. “This organization, he said, consisted of senior members of the country’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, government officials, and other public figures.”
Since 2014, Russia-backed militants and the Ukrainian military have been fighting a war that has killed up to 13,000 people and injured at least 27,000 others, according to the United Nations
In October 2017, the Hill’s Solomon and Alison Spann shed light on allegations that Clinton facilitated the sale of 20 percent of U.S. domestic uranium production to Russia under the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.