stroke of luck
November 7, 2019

Ukraine's president reportedly came quite close to making the announcement of investigations President Trump wanted.

As Trump was pushing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to publicly announce the opening of investigations involving Burisma, the gas company where former Vice President Joe Biden's son served on the board, and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, "high-level Ukrainian officials ultimately decided to acquiesce to President Trump's request," The New York Times reports. They were hoping to receive the U.S. aid that had been frozen; the House of Representatives is investigating whether Trump improperly withheld this aid in order to get Ukraine to open investigations that might help him in the 2020 election and damage Biden politically.

Plans were reportedly made for Zelensky to make an announcement during an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria on Sept. 13. United States Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland recently testified that he told Ukraine "resumption of the U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anticorruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks." According to the Times, an aide to Zelensky suggested "language that mentioned investigations but in general terms," and American diplomats "late in the negotiations" agreed to drop the 2016 mention.

A mere two days before the interview was scheduled to take place, though, the aid was released, with this coming after Congress learned about it being frozen. The Times describes this as "a stroke of luck" that prevented Ukraine from having to follow through, although Ukraine's foreign minister provided little clarity about what Zelensky was specifically planning to tell Zakaria. An analyst told the Times, though, "The Zelensky team was ready to make this quid quo pro." Brendan Morrow

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