The Republican chairmen of three Senate committees are seeking records from and interviews with a former DNC contractor and a former Ukrainian diplomatic official to determine whether there was any coordination between the Ukrainian government and Democrats in the 2016 election, an allegation which Democrats have dismissed as a conspiracy theory.
Sens. Chuck Grassley, Ron Johnson and Lindsey Graham said Friday that they are requesting the records from Alexandra Chalupa, the former DNC contractor, and Andrii Telizkhenko, a former political officer who worked in the Ukrainian embassy.
The senators say that the request is a continuation of Grassley’s inquiry in 2017 about possible coordination between the DNC and Ukrainian embassy to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
On Jan. 11, 2017, Politico reported that Chalupa met throughout 2016 with Ukrainian embassy officials, and sought to trade information related to Manafort, who worked through 2014 for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Telizhenko told Politico that he was directed by his bosses to help Chalupa in the effort.
In addition to Chalupa’s efforts, multiple Ukrainian government officials spoke out against Trump during the 2016 campaign.
One official scrutinized by Republicans is Serhiy Leshchenko, a former Ukrainian parliamentarian who gained international attention in August 2016 for helping publicize the so-called “black ledger” that detailed payments that the Ukrainian Party of Regions allegedly made to Manafort.
Manafort denied receiving the payments, but was forced off the Trump team following reports of the “black ledger.” He was convicted in the special counsel’s investigation of financial crimes related to income from his Ukraine work.
Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for Fusion GPS, told lawmakers in an Oct. 18, 2018 interview that Leshchenko was a source of some kind for Fusion, which commissioned the infamous Steele dossier.
Leshchenko has told The Daily Caller News Foundation that he never knowingly met with anyone from Fusion GPS. He said that he met Chalupa at least once during the 2016 campaign season at an event held for the Ukraine diaspora.
The DNC paid Chalupa $412,000 for consulting work from 2004 through June 2016. The DCNF has been unable to reach Chalupa for comment.
Democrats and numerous media pundits have downplayed allegations that Ukraine may have meddled in the 2016 election, calling the theory a distraction from Russia’s interference in the campaign.
In a statement announcing their requests, Johnson, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, criticized the press, which he says has dismissed the theory of Ukrainian meddling.
“Contrary to the popular narrative in the ‘main stream media’ that Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election has been debunked, or ‘no evidence exists,’ there are many unanswered questions that have festered for years,” Johnson said.
Grassley, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said that the DNC-Ukraine link has not been fully explored.
“While there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, we know that Russia meddled in our democratic processes. However, certain reports of collusion and interference involving Ukrainian officials have not been sufficiently examined, and the few answers that have been given are inadequate,” said the Iowa Republican.
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