Donald Trump Ukraine Scandal Did Not Start With Phone Call, Operation Reaches Back 2 Years, New Reports Say

Jonathan Vankin

Democrats who control the United States House of Representatives initiated an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump on Tuesday after revelations that in a July 25 phone call, Trump had pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to stage a bogus "investigation" of former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump's potential opponent in the 2020 election. On Wednesday, the White House released a partial transcript of that call, in which Trump appeared to link the investigation of Biden to future United States military aid to Ukraine, as The Inquisitr reported.

But while Democrats look to be centering their impeachment investigations around that single phone call, new media reporting published late Wednesday reveals that an operation to bend the policies of the Ukrainian government to benefit Trump and his reelection campaign did not start with the July 25 phone call. According to the reports, the operation by Trump and his associates, primarily attorney Rudy Giuliani, extends back at least several months — or even as long as two years.

As far back as 2017, Trump and Giuliani were pressuring the government of Ukraine to "obtain information that might provide a pretext and political cover" for Trump to issue a pardon for his former campaign manager Paul Manafort, according to longtime investigative reporter Murray Waas, reporting in The New York Review of Books.

Manafort was the political consultant who engineered the rise to power of Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian political strongman who was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014. Trump's former campaign manager is now serving seven years in federal prison, in part for evading taxes on secret payments from Yanukovych's Party of Regions. The Ukraine government was conducting four separate investigations into Manafort's activities but suddenly called off the investigations last year.

According to reporting by The Daily Beast, then-president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko may have seen halting the probes of Manafort as the "price" for the Trump administration to send Ukraine "arms to fight pro-Russian forces."

The Trump administration in March of 2018 authorized the sale of 210 Javelin missiles to Ukraine, anti-tank weapons that could give Ukraine an advantage in its battle against Russian-backed forces in the war that has raged in Ukraine's eastern regions since 2014. As The New York Times noted, Poroshenko's order to halt the Manafort investigations came just a few weeks later.

According to the White House transcript of the July 25 Trump-Zelensky phone call, as reported by The Inquisitr, the current Ukraine president told Trump that his government wanted to purchase another shipment of Javelin missiles, to which Trump responded by telling Zelensky, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

Trump then proceeded to ask Zelensky to open an investigation of Biden.