by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:
A couple of days ago, Politico published a fascinating piece describing how factions associated with the current Ukrainian government apparently interfered in the U.S. election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The findings seem pretty damning, and certainly warrant at least some conversation within the American media given the 24/7 obsession with Russia. Nevertheless, most of you have probably never heard of this saga, since when it comes to the corporate media news cycle, some election interference is more equal than others.
The article is lengthy, and can be confusing at times given all the moving parts, but I highly encourage you to read it. Ukrainian interference in the election can be traced to essentially two sources. First, there was the apparent collaboration between the Ukrainian embassy in Washington D.C. and a highly paid Ukrainian-American DNC consultant, Alexandra Chalupa. The second angle is far more disturbing, and involves the publicization of a so-called ledger demonstrating corruption between Paul Manafort and pro-Russian elements in Ukraine, by a parliamentarian named Serhiy Leshchenko. Bizarrely, the investigation was effectively dropped after Trump won the election, making you wonder if there was anything really there in the first place.
What follows are excerpts from the excellent piece, Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire:
Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country.
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.
A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.
Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.
The Ukrainian antipathy for Trump’s team — and alignment with Clinton’s — can be traced back to late 2013. That’s when the country’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Manafort had been advising, abruptly backed out of a European Union pact linked to anti-corruption reforms. Instead, Yanukovych entered into a multibillion-dollar bailout agreement with Russia, sparking protests across Ukraine and prompting Yanukovych to flee the country to Russia under Putin’s protection.
In the ensuing crisis, Russian troops moved into the Ukrainian territory of Crimea, and Manafort dropped off the radar.
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.
She said she shared her concern with Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., Valeriy Chaly, and one of his top aides, Oksana Shulyar, during a March 2016 meeting at the Ukrainian Embassy. According to someone briefed on the meeting, Chaly said that Manafort was very much on his radar, but that he wasn’t particularly concerned about the operative’s ties to Trump since he didn’t believe Trump stood much of a chance of winning the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency.
Chalupa said the embassy also worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions. She added, though, “they were being very protective and not speaking to the press as much as they should have. I think they were being careful because their situation was that they had to be very, very careful because they could not pick sides. It’s a political issue, and they didn’t want to get involved politically because they couldn’t.”
Shulyar vehemently denied working with reporters or with Chalupa on anything related to Trump or Manafort, explaining “we were stormed by many reporters to comment on this subject, but our clear and adamant position was not to give any comment [and] not to interfere into the campaign affairs.”
Shulyar said her work with Chalupa “didn’t involve the campaign,” and she specifically stressed that “We have never worked to research and disseminate damaging information about Donald Trump and Paul Manafort.”
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. “Oksana said that if I had any information, or knew other people who did, then I should contact Chalupa,” recalled Telizhenko, who is now a political consultant in Kiev. “They were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa,” he said, adding “Oksana was keeping it all quiet,” but “the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa.
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.
Telizhenko recalled that Chalupa told him and Shulyar that, “If we can get enough information on Paul [Manafort] or Trump’s involvement with Russia, she can get a hearing in Congress by September.”
Sure seems like pretty close coordination between a DNC consultant and the official embassy of Ukraine in the midst of a Presidential election.
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