WASHINGTON – This spring and summer, for months, newly-elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, tried to divert pressure from President Trump and his allies to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., son of Mr. Biden and others to lead Trump's rivals.
The pressure was so relentless that Mr. Zelensky sent one of his closest associates to open a line of communication with Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump's personal lawyer, Biden's business as Vice President with Ukraine at a time when his son Hunter Biden did business there.
In the weeks following the call, events quickly developed a path that alarmed some officials in both countries. They interpreted the discussions as wavering support for Ukraine in exchange for politically advantageous investigations.
On 12 August, a whistleblower lodged a complaint with the Inspector General of Intelligence, at least in part concerning Mr Trump's negotiations with Ukraine, according to two persons familiar with the matter.
Around the same time, Mr Giuliani met with Mr Yermak personally in Spain to reiterate the investigation and to discuss the status of the prospective Trump-Zelensky meeting. The State Department admitted that his envoy had helped to connect Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Yermak, and Mr. Giuliani said that he informed the department of his discussions.
In late August, Ukrainians learned that a package of US military assistance was delayed by the White House, because, as Vice President Mike Pence later after a meeting with Mr. Zelensky explained, he and Mr. Trump "great concern over issues of Have corruption ".
This sequence of events is now at the center of a dispute between Congressional Democrats and the White House over the question of whether Mr. Trump used the powers of his office and the foreign affairs of the United States to obtain harmful information about a political rival. The conflict has been fueled in recent days by the government's refusal to allow the Inspector General of Intelligence to pass on information about the complaint to Congress.
The dispute has intensified the demand among the House Democrats to press ahead with Mr Trump's impeachment. Mr. Trump's open support for a Ukrainian Bidens investigation – "Someone should investigate that," the President told reporters at the Oval Office on Friday – is particularly noteworthy because he came to see Mr. Trump soon after a lengthy investigation by the Special Representative Encouraged or accepted Russia's help in the 2016 election campaign.
The situation has also highlighted Mr. Trump's grudge against Ukraine, a close ally who has long been receiving nonpartisan support to build a stable democracy and repel the aggression of his enemies neighbor in the East , Russia.
Mr. Trump has often found a less than condemning tone on Russian aggression, including interference in his interests in the 2016 presidential election and the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, which, according to Trump, should no longer prevent Russia from rejoining last month The group of 7 industrial nations.
Only after the Congress had exerted strong nonpartisan pressure on the government did Mr Trump release the aid package for Ukraine last week.
Following delays in planning a White House meeting for Mr Trump Zelensky and the cancellation of a trip by Mr Trump to Europe, where the two first met in person, Mr Trump's calendar for Mr Wednesday in New York on the verge of events recorded by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Privately, Mr. Trump has lost harsh words about Ukraine. He has rejected the recommendations of his own government to provide the full support of the United States Government to Mr. Zelensky, a former comedian and political freshman who is seen in the West as a reformer elected with the order, both the Russian aggression also to stop the Russian The political corruption that has long plagued the former Soviet state.
In May, a delegation of US officials returned from Zelensky's inauguration, praising the new president as a reformer and urging Mr. Trump to meet with him arguing that Mr. Zelensky faced enormous headwinds and American support needed. The future of Ukraine will be decided in the next six months, said a meeting of the Oval Office with Mr. Trump.
Trump was not sympathetic. "They are terrible people," he said of Ukrainian politicians who were familiar with the meeting with the officials who had just returned from Kiev. "They are all corrupt and have tried to bring me down."
Mr. Trump's and Mr. Giuliani's skepticism towards the Ukrainian government is at least partly due to their belief that officials of the Ukrainian government at the time were supporting Hillary Clinton Presidential campaign in 2016 and tried to sabotage Mr. Trumps.
Mr. Trump's election chairman, Paul Manafort, was forced to resign after Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutors published records indicating that a Russian-focused political party had earmarked payments from an illegal slush fund for him.
Mr. Giuliani has made no evidence that the records have been tampered with, and one of the matters for which he has requested an investigation is the source and release of the records.
Mr. Giuliani claims that the circumstances surrounding the publication of the records could undermine the legality of the Special Representative's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 elections.
Already in the summer of 2017, Mr. Trump published on Twitter . on "Ukrainian attempts to sabotage the Trump campaign" and Ms. Clinton to strengthen and demand: "So, where is the investigation?"
The other matter concerns the overlap between Mr. Biden's diplomacy in Ukraine and his son's involvement in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
Mr. Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential candidacy 2020, and Mr Giuliani has acknowledged that such an investigation could harm him.
Trump drew attention to Hunter Biden's investigation and questions about the former Vice President's involvement in the deposition of a Ukrainian prosecutor whose office was authorized to investigate the oligarch whose company Hunter Biden paid.
Mr. Biden's support for the dismissal of the Ukrainian prosecutor was in line with the government's policy and the anti-corruption goals of the Western allies. However, US Department of State officials feared that Hunter Biden's work for the gas company could make his father's diplomacy in Ukraine more difficult.
On Friday, Mr Biden rejected Mr Trump's criticism.
For almost a year, Mr. Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York, was tasking mediators with months of effort to raise interest in Ukrainian investigations. They worked with prosecutors of the former Ukrainian government to gather information about the investigation.
After Mr. Zelensky's victory, Mr. Giuliani planned a trip to Ukraine in May to try to urge Mr. Zelensky's team to continue the investigation and meet with people whom Mr. Giuliani believed they would Insights into the new government and the investigations initiated by it. "We do not interfere in elections, we interfere in investigations to which we have a right," said Giuliani at that time.
After the planned trip triggered a backlash by the Democrats accusing him, Mr. Giuliani tried to win foreign aid for Mr. Trump's re-election and canceled the trip at the last minute. He accused Mr. Zelensky's allies of planning a "facility."
Mr. Zelensky's transition team, which did not want to be seen as part of United States politics, rejected Mr Giuliani's request for a meeting with the new president, former Zelensky counselor Serhiy Leshchenko.
] "It was clear that the Zelensky team did not want to get involved in American politics," Leshchenko said. "They were very angry about this problem."
Mr. Leshchenko and two other Ukrainians, all young Western-oriented politicians and veterans of the 2014 revolution, said in interviews that Mr. Giuliani's efforts gave the impression that the Trump administration's willingness to support Mr. Zelensky was due to his government's willingness The continuation of the investigation requested by Mr. Trump's allies was connected.
When it became clear that he would not receive an audience with the future Ukrainian president, Mr. Giuliani in an interview in Fox News stated that Mr. Zelensky of people who are the enemies of Mr. Trump, including Mr. Leshchenko. Giuliani appeared to refer to the role of Mr. Leshchenko, with whom he helped draw attention to reports on the "black ledger" in which $ 12.7 million was paid to Mr. Manafort, the extensive works in Ukraine for Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former President disgraced.