Background Briefing: September 25, 2019


Trump Praises Ukraine’s Notoriously Corrupt Prosecutor

We begin with the release today by the White House of the 5 page transcript of the July 25th conversation between President Trump and Ukraine’s newly-elected President Zelensky which appears to be incomplete since the conversation lasted for 30 minutes. James Risen, the Senior National Security Correspondent at The Intercept and a former Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist with The New York Times, joins us to discuss his latest article at The Intercept “I Wrote About the Bidens and Ukraine Years Ago. Then the Right-Wing Spin Machine Turned the Story Upside Down”. Since the Biden’s are mentioned several times in the transcript as Trump repeatedly asks Zelensky to investigate his likely 2020 presidential rival, we examine the real evidence compared to the manufactured evidence Trump appears to be leaning on Zelensky to provide. The facts are that Vice President Biden went to Ukraine in December of 2015 to press for more aggressive anti-corruption efforts which were being blocked by a crooked chief prosecutor Victor Shokin who Joe Biden wanted fired because Shokin was soliciting bribes from companies he was threatening to investigate which, needless to say, meant that no major investigations occurred. If anything Biden was not trying to protect his son, but calling for the opposite, for real investigations into companies like the one paying Hunter Biden. In the transcripts, Trump refers to Shokin asking Zelensky. “I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair”.

Trump Hangs Zelensky out to Dry by Releasing the Transcript

Then we speak with Aaron Rupar, a journalist and Associate Editor at Vox where he has an article “Trump’s rationale for withholding aid to Ukraine changed overnight” and another “Trump’s weird reference to “Crowdstrike” during the Ukraine call, briefly explained”. As for Trump’s changing rational, the Ukrainian president thought his remarks would be redacted from the transcript the White House released, but Trump hung Zelensky out to dry. Because in trying to be friendly with Trump, Zelensky was goaded into being critical of Macron and Merkel for not giving Ukraine enough aid which Ukraine’s president knows is not true. But now that Zelensky’s words have been made public by Trump, he is devastated and his country could suffer.


Trump Entangles Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Crusader in His Web of Sleaze Instead of Helping His Country

Then finally we speak with an expert on Ukraine’s endemic corruption, Keith Darden, a Professor in the School of International Service at American University where he researches the politics of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia and whose forthcoming book is “Resisting Occupation in Eurasia”. We discuss the obscenity of Trump entangling Ukraine’s young anti-corruption crusader into his web of sleazy lies, blackmail and extortion instead of helping the desperately poor country under attack by Russia which is a beacon of democracy surrounded by corrupt despotic regimes.