While Democrats rush toward impeachment over an anonymous whistleblower complaint accusing President Donald Trump of requesting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, many have ignored the fact that last year, Senate Democrats wrote to Ukraine’s prosecutor general asking Ukrainian officials to investigate Trump.
In May of 2018, Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wrote to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko asking the Ukraine government to keep four investigations open related to the Mueller probe into Russian election interference in the U.S. and indicated that their support for foreign aid to Ukraine could be in jeopardy.
“As strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine, we believe that our cooperation should extend to such legal matters,” the senators wrote, adding that they were “disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these principles in order to avoid the ire of President Trump.”
Durbin, one of the letter’s authors, has now come out in support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s opening of an impeachment inquiry against Trump. Leahy and Menendez have both called for an investigation into the president’s alleged misconduct related to Ukraine.
The White House has come under heightened scrutiny from Democratic lawmakers and political opponents after an uncorroborated complaint was filed by a whistleblower accusing the president of conspiring with Zelensky to impede the campaign of Joe Biden, who is the 2020 Democratic front-runner. The complaint was deemed “credible” and “urgent” by the intelligence inspector general despite the whistleblower admitting having no firsthand knowledge of the conversations between the two world leaders in question.
Some Democrats who were previously opposed to impeachment, however, have now supported the start of official proceedings, including Pelosi, who endorsed impeachment Tuesday with the announcement of an official inquiry the House has not yet voted on.
On Wednesday, an unclassified and unredacted transcript of the July phone call between Trump and Zelensky was released revealing no quid pro quo offered by Trump regarding his request that the Ukraine leader look into Biden’s son, Hunter, for shady business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company where Biden, as vice president, “stopped the prosecution” into the company, the board of which Hunter sat on for $50,000 a month.
The transcript shows Zelensky first bringing up the issue of political corruption in Ukraine, followed by Trump suggesting that Ukraine authorities investigate their country’s own involvement in the Russian collusion conspiracy that suggested the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016, which after a three-year probe turned out to be demonstrably false.