During the recent public impeachment hearings aimed at President Donald Trump, Republicans repeatedly mentioned one woman’s name: Alexandra Chalupa.
Chalupa may not be a household name, but if the impeachment effort against the president advances to the Senate she might take center stage as an anti-Trump activist who could be credited with launching Russian collusion and Ukraine bribery conspiracies.
If Democrats had not rejected almost all of the witnesses Republicans wanted to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, Chalupa’s role in the 2016 election may have been highlighted, including actions that led to the demise of Paul Manafort, the man who was briefly Trump’s presidential campaign manager and who is now serving a prison sentence for financial fraud and conspiracy.
And despite the Democrats reluctance to have her at the witness table, Chalupa told Politico she wanted to testify.
Eager Impeachment Witness
The Politico report cited Chalupa’s willingness to be in the spotlight:
A longtime Democratic consultant and Ukrainian-American activist says she’s itching to testify in the House’s public impeachment hearings to beat back Republican assertions that Ukrainian officials used her as a conduit for information in 2016 to damage Donald Trump.
“I’m on a mission to testify,” said Alexandra Chalupa, who Republicans identified as one of nine witnesses they would like to testify publicly when the House begins public impeachment proceedings this week.
Chalupa, founder of the political consulting firm Chalupa & Associates, LLC, and a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Ethnic Council, has been at the heart of efforts by allies of President Donald Trump to draw an equivalence between Russia’s large-scale hacking and propaganda operation to interfere in the 2016 election with the actions of a small cadre of Ukrainian bureaucrats who allegedly worked with Chalupa to research former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s Russia ties.
Chalupa’a Twitter account says she is a “human rights hobbyist, political strategist, connector, mom of 3 strong girls. Lives in D.C., from California. On Putin & Trump’s bad list,” but her resume shows more about where her loyalties lie.
Her LinkedIn profile includes a work history: “Online Constituency Outreach Director” for John Kerry’s presidential campaign; executive director for Democrats Abroad and five years as the director of the Office of Party Leaders for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
But it is in another Politico investigative piece in January 2017 that reveals — despite media and Democrat denials — Ukraine’s efforts to influence the 2016 election and that Chalupa lent them a hand.
In the report, entitled “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire, Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton” details of Chalupa’s “mission” is outlined.
Longtime Activism Record
The story begins with Chalupa learning that lawyer and lobbyist Paul Manafort had been an adviser to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych before the latter fled the country under Putin’s protection:
Manafort’s work for Yanukovych caught the attention of a veteran Democratic operative named Alexandra Chalupa, who had worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison during the Clinton administration. Chalupa went on to work as a staffer, then as a consultant, for Democratic National Committee. The DNC paid her $412,000 from 2004 to June 2016, according to Federal Election Commission records, though she also was paid by other clients during that time, including Democratic campaigns and the DNC’s arm for engaging expatriate Democrats around the world.
A daughter of Ukrainian immigrants who maintains strong ties to the Ukrainian-American diaspora and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, Chalupa, a lawyer by training, in 2014 was doing pro bono work for another client interested in the Ukrainian crisis and began researching Manafort’s role in Yanukovych’s rise, as well as his ties to the pro-Russian oligarchs who funded Yanukovych’s political party.
In an interview this month, Chalupa told Politico she had developed a network of sources in Kiev and Washington, including investigative journalists, government officials and private intelligence operatives. While her consulting work at the DNC this past election cycle centered on mobilizing ethnic communities — including Ukrainian-Americans — she said that, when Trump’s unlikely presidential campaign began surging in late 2015, she began focusing more on the research, and expanded it to include Trump’s ties to Russia, as well.
The Politico report also said Chalupa shared her research with the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, including the narrative about Russia/Trump collusion.
“I felt there was a Russia connection,” Chalupa said. “And that, if there was, that we can expect Paul Manafort to be involved in this election.”
Chalupa described Manafort as “Putin’s political brain for manipulating U.S. foreign policy and elections.”
She also shared her research with then-Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, and his aide, Oksana Shulyar, during a March 2016 meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy.
Those officials said that they knew about Manafort but were not worried because they believed Trump had little chance of being the Republican nominee let alone winning the presidency.
And then Trump hired Manafort.
“The day after Manafort’s hiring was revealed, she briefed the DNC’s communications staff on Manafort, Trump and their ties to Russia, according to an operative familiar with the situation,” Politico reported and that “officials [at the embassy] became ‘helpful’ in Chalupa’s efforts … explaining that she traded information and leads with them.
Politico also reported the Ukraine Embassy worked “directly” with reporters researching Trump’s alleged Russia ties — a claim Shulyar denied.
“But Andrii Telizhenko, who worked as a political officer in the Ukrainian Embassy under Shulyar, said she instructed him to help Chalupa research connections between Trump, Manafort and Russia,” Politico reported.
“Oksana said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa,” Telizhenko said. “They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.”
“Oksana was keeping it all quiet,” but “the embassy worked very closely with Chalupa,” Telizhenko said.
“In fact, sources familiar with the effort say that Shulyar specifically called Telizhenko into a meeting with Chalupa to provide an update on an American media outlet’s ongoing investigation into Manafort,” Politico reported.
Telizhenko also said in the Politico report: “If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September.”
In a tweet she posted during the hearings, Chalupa defended notifying the Obama administration about Manafort.
She also defended her work with Ukrainian officials during the 2016 campaign by claiming she never visited the country and was not employed by its government.
“For the record: I have never worked for a foreign government,” Chalupa tweeted during the hearings. “I have never been to Ukraine. I was not an opposition researcher. In 2008, I knew Manafort worked for Putin’s interests in Ukraine. I reported my concerns about him to the NSC in 2014 & sounded the alarm bells in 2016.”
For the record: I have never worked for a foreign government. I have never been to Ukraine. I was not an opposition researcher. In 2008, I knew Manafort worked for Putin’s interests in Ukraine. I reported my concerns about him to the NSC in 2014 & sounded the alarm bells in 2016.
— Alexandra Chalupa (@AlexandraChalup) November 15, 2019
2016 Election Influencer
In a Yahoo News story investigative reporter Michael Isikoff named Chalupa as one of 16 “ordinary people” who “shaped the 2016 election.”
“Chalupa this month told Politico that, as her research and role in the election started becoming more public, she began receiving death threats, along with continued alerts of state-sponsored hacking. But she said, ‘None of this has scared me off.’”
In a profile of Chalupa in October 2018 in the Kyiv Post, she said her interest in Ukraine grew after the unrest and violence on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square in November 2013.
“I have a diverse network of Ukrainian-American and Ukrainian friends on social media who were reporting real-time developments taking place in Kyiv that the western media was not covering,” Chalupa said in the profile. “I wanted to do my part to be helpful to draw attention to the events on the Maidan, so I pulled together the heads of Ukrainian-American organizations and connected them with the White House.”
“This was the first of a handful of other meetings related to Ukraine she helped organize for Obama’s National Security Council,” the Post reported.
The November 2019 Politico piece explains why she is back in the spotlight:
Chalupa It’s not only GOP House members who are interested in Chalupa, however. The right-wing activist group Judicial Watch recently obtained visitor logs placing Chalupa at the White House several times in 2015, where she attended meetings related to countering disinformation with other Ukrainian-Americans and sometimes worked with the White House’s Office of Public Liaison to organize ethnic engagement events, she said.
A photo of her at one of those meetings—standing next to a man that conservative news outlets have identified as the official who blew the whistle on Trump’s interactions with Zelensky—has again placed Chalupa at the center of controversy.
She mused in an interview about how Republicans would be reacting now if she’d actually taken a job in Ukraine that required her to shuttle back and forth from Kyiv to D.C. during the 2016 campaign. A position as an “embedded consultant” in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was offered to her the day WikiLeaks began publishing stolen DNC documents in July 2016, according to an email reviewed by Politico.
“I never responded to it,” Chalupa said. “Felt it was a trap.”
To date, it looks like Chalupa won’t testify unless the impeachment effort advances to a Senate trial where Republicans might have some tough questions for her.
Chalupa, for her part, thinks she can help the Democrats efforts to remove a duly elected president from office.
“As an expert on political hybrid warfare, including from first-hand experience being targeted by the Kremlin for the past four years, I’m confident there’s a lot I can contribute to the hearings,” Chalupa said. “For now, it seems the focus is exactly where it needs to be — on Donald Trump and his accomplices trying to extort Ukraine, a U.S. ally defending itself from Russia’s ongoing military and hybrid warfare.”
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