As we rapidly approach campaign 2020, Democrats and Republicans have fired up a new debate over which foreign entities tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Both sides agree that Russian interests made attempts to meddle in the 2016 campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller wasnt able to connect any Americans to the alleged scheme, but filed a case against 13 Russians. He charged they were instructed to write social media posts opposing Clinton and “to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.” Although it hasnt been widely reported, Mueller also testified there were instances of Russian social media support for Hillary Clinton, as well.
But theres widespread disagreement on the role Ukraine may have had in U.S. election interference in 2016.
This past week, Democrats stepped up efforts to dismiss such allegations as “debunked” and a “conspiracy theory.” Republicans doubled down, stating that the alleged Ukrainian efforts may not have been a “top down” operation—as they believe Russias was—but could have been significant all the same and deserves serious investigation.
The Republican heads of two senate committees have asked the FBI and the Department of Justice for records related to reported collusion between Ukraine and U.S. Democrats to get “dirt” on the Trump campaign from Ukraine in 2016.
At least part of Ukraines alleged role has been easier to piece together than the Russian interference, thanks to public reporting and interviews with some of those involved. Additional facts are available through federal lobbying disclosures filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and from documents published by WikiLeaks.
Both Politico and Yahoo News interviewed a key player in the controversy, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) consultant named Alexandra Chalupa, who previously worked under the Clinton administration.
Chalupa reportedly acknowledged in her 2017 interview with Politico that she worked as a consultant for the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign with the goal of publicly exposing Trump campaign aide Paul Manaforts links to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Chalupa admitted coordinating with the Ukrainian Embassy, and with Ukrainian and U.S. news reporters.
In public accounts since the original news articles, Chalupa—a Ukrainian-American— has claimed her role and intentions have been misrepresented.
Relevant allegations are recounted below, in chronological order.
Chalupa began researching Manafort.
The FBI investigated and wiretapped Manafort for allegedly not properly disclosing his Russia-related lobbying work. The FBI failed to make a case at the time and discontinued the wiretap.
March 25: Chalupa reportedly met with top Ukrainian officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C. in an effort to tarnish the Trump campaign by exposing “ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia.”
The Ukrainian embassy proceeded to work “directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions,” according to an embassy official, though other officials later deny engaging in election-related activities.
March 30: Chalupa reportedly briefed DNC staff on alleged Russian ties to Manafort and Trump. It was the day after the Trump campaign hired Manafort to manage the July Republican convention.
With the “DNCs encouragement,” Chalupa reportedly asked the Ukrainian embassy to arrange a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss Manaforts lobbying for Ukraines former president, Viktor Yanukovych. The embassy reportedly declined to arrange the meeting but became “helpful” in trading info and leads, according to Politicos reporting.
Ukrainian embassy officials and Chalupa “coordinat[ed] an investigation with the Hillary team” into Manafort, according to a source to Politico. This effort reportedly included working with U.S. media.
April: Ukrainian member of parliament Olga Bielkova reportedly sought meetings with five dozen members of U.S. Congress and reporters including former New York Times reporter Judy Miller, David Sanger of New York Times, David Ignatius of Washington Post, and Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.
The week of April 6: Chalupa and the office of Rep. Mary Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, reportedly discussed holding a possible congressional investigation or hearing on Manafort and Russia “by September.” Chalupa says she began working with reporter Mike Isikoff around this time.
April 12: Ukrainian parliament member Olga Bielkova and a colleague met with Sen. John McCain associate David Kramer with the McCain Institute, according to government records. Kramer is an ex-U.S. State Dept. official affiliated with the anti-Russia “Ukraine Today” media organization. He would later be sent to London by Sen. John McCain to meet with the author of the anti-Trump dossier, Christopher Steele.
Bielkova also met with Liz Zentos of the Obama administrations National Security Council, and State Department official Michael Kimmage.
April 20: Chalupa reported that she was victim of a cyberattack on this date. The FBI imaged her laptop and smartphone. (Two Republican senate committee chairmen are now seeking these records.)
April 26: Reporter Michael Isikoff published a story on Yahoo News about Paul Manaforts business dealings with a Russian oligarch.
April 28: Chalupa reportedly was invited to discuss her research about Manafort with 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine at the Library of Congress for the Open World Leadership Center, a U.S. congressional agency. Chalupa said she invited reporter Isikoff to “connect him to the Ukrainians.” After the event, reporter Isikoff reportedly accompanied Chalupa to a Ukrainian embassy reception.
May 3: Chalupa emailed the DNC that she would share with them sensitive information about Paul Manafort “offline” including “a big Trump component…that will hit in next few weeks.”
Late July: Chalupa reportedly left the DNC to work full-time on her research into Manafort, Trump, and Russia; and she provided off-the-record guidance to “a lot of journalists.” Around the same time FBI agent Peter Strzok opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.
August: Justice Department official Bruce Ohr reportedly met with FBI official Andrew McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page to discuss Russia-Trump collusion allegations relayed by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
Aug. 4: The Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. wrote an op-ed against Trump.
Aug. 8: The FBIs head of counterintelligence, Peter Strzok, wrote to FBI lawyer Lisa Page that they would “stop” Trump from becoming president.
Aug. 14: The New York Times broke a story about Manafort allegedly taking improper cash payments a decade prior from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. Ukraines so-called “black ledger” showing the cash paymentRead More – Source