Andriy Yermak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, confirmed the European country never felt U.S. military aid was tied to any investigations into allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
“We never had that feeling,” Yermak told TIME magazine when asked about whether Ukraine felt pressure from the president to probe into the Bidens in exchange for aid. “We had a clear understanding that the aid has been frozen. We honestly said, ‘Okay, that’s bad, what’s going on here.’ We were told that they would figure it out. And after a certain amount of time the aid was unfrozen. We did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.”
Yermak’s comments were published roughly one hour after House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Trump — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler announced the charges on Capitol Hill, and was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and chairpersons Adam Schiff of the intelligence committee, Maxine Waters of the financial services committee, Carolyn Maloney of the oversight committee, Richard Neal of the ways and means committee and Eliot Engel of the foreign affairs committee.
Declaring President Trump had “violated his oath of office,” Nadler said the president had been charged with “committing high crimes and misdemeanors” under powers granted to the House by the U.S. Constitution.
President Trump “consistently puts himself above the country,” Nadler said, adding the president’s actions in seeking to obtain political favors from Ukraine, and then by refusing to cooperate with the resulting investigation, left the House with “no choice” but to resort to impeachment.
Schiff said House leaders made the decision to move ahead, rather than wait for the 2020 election to let voters decide, partly because the president’s actions have placed the integrity of the election into jeopardy.
“Why don’t you let him cheat in one more election?” Schiff asked rhetorically. “That is what that argument amounts to.”
President Trump blasted House Democrats leaders after concluding their press conference, branding Nadler’s accusations as “ridiculous.”
“Nadler just said that I “pressured Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 Election.” Ridiculous, and he knows that is not true. Both the President & Foreign Minister of Ukraine said, many times, that there “WAS NO PRESSURE.” Nadler and the Dems know this, but refuse to acknowledge!” the president tweeted.
In a subsequent tweet, the president called Schiff a “totally corrupt politician,” who will have to “answer” for making up a conversation between himself and Ukraine’s president.
“Shifty Schiff, a totally corrupt politician, made up a horrible and fraudulent statement, read it to Congress, and said those words came from me. He got caught, was very embarrassed, yet nothing happened to him for committing this fraud. He’ll eventually have to answer for this!” he wrote.
The UPI contributed to this report.