Was Letter Sent By Three US Democratic Senators To Ukraine A Threat?

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In May 2018, three prominent Democratic senators wrote a letter to the Ukrainian prosecutor general, asking regarding news reports that he had halted four Ukrainian investigations involving Paul Manafort to avoid angering President Trump. Republicans have called the letter a “threat”, by the senators, to withhold their support for aid to Ukraine.

While there is no explicit threat to withhold aid in the senator’s letter, critics liken it to the “whistleblower’s” claims surrounding Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.

Read the letter below:

Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko
General Prosecutor Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine
13/15 Riznytska St.
Kyiv, 01011
Ukraine

Dear Mr. Prosecutor General:

We are writing to express great concern about reports that your office has taken steps to impede cooperation with the investigation of United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller. As strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine, we believe that our cooperation should extend to such legal matters, regardless of politics. Ours is a relationship built on a foundation of respect for the rule of law and accountable democratic institutions. In four short years, Ukraine has made significant progress in building these institutions despite ongoing military, economic and political pressure from Moscow. We have supported that capacity building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these principles in order to avoid the ire of President Trump. If these reports are true, we strongly encourage you to reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.

On May 2, the New York Times reported that your office effectively froze investigations into four open cases in Ukraine in April, thereby eliminating scope for cooperation with the Mueller probe into related issues. The article notes that your office considered these cases as too politically sensitive and potentially jeopardizing U.S. financial and military aid to Ukraine. The article indicates specifically that your office prohibited special prosecutor Serhiy Horbatyuk from issuing subpoenas for evidence or interviewing witnesses in four open cases in Ukraine related to consulting work performed by Paul Manafort for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich and his political party.

This investigation not only has implications for the Mueller probe, but also speaks to critically important investigations into the corrupt practices of the Yanukovich administration, which stole millions of dollars from the people of Ukraine. Blocking cooperation with the Mueller probe potentially cuts off a significant opportunity for Ukrainian law enforcement to conduct a more thorough inquiry into possible crimes committed during the Yanukovich era. This reported refusal to cooperate with the Mueller probe also sends a worrying signal—to the Ukrainian people as well as the international community-about your government’s commitment more broadly to support justice and the rule of law.

We respectfully request that you reply to this letter answering the following questions:

  1. Has your office taken any steps to restrict cooperation with the investigation by Special
    Counsel Robert Mueller? If so, why?
  2. Did any individual from the Trump Administration, or anyone acting on its behalf, encourage Ukrainian government or law enforcement officials not to cooperate with the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
  3.  Was the Mueller probe raised in any way during discussions between your government and U.S. officials, including around the meeting of Presidents Trump and Poroshenko in New York in 2017?

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez
United States Senator

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Patrick Leahy
United States Senator

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First State Update's Delaware editorial team covers New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County breaking news, political news, and general news stories. We bring the reader the latest news from the Wilmington, Newark, Dover, Rehoboth Beach and all point in between. If you have news to share, email us at desk@firststateupdate.com.

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