Amid public pressure from Donald Trump, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General has announced that his office is reviewing all cases closed by his predecessor, including one into the gas company where the son of former Vice President Joe Biden sat on the board.
As The Associated Press reported, Ruslan Ryaboshapka announced the re-opening of the cases on Friday, which comes as President Trump faces an impeachment inquiry related to claims that he pressured Ukraine into investigating the business dealings of Hunter Biden. Trump has accused both Hunter and Joe Biden of corruption in Ukraine, though did not say which laws he believes were violated.
“Ryaboshapka told reporters in Kyiv that prosecutors are auditing all the cases that were closed or dismissed by former prosecutors, including several related to Mykola Zlochevsky, owner of the gas company Burisma that hired Hunter Biden in 2014, at the same time his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kyiv,” the report noted.
As The Associated Press noted, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter or his father. Ryaboshapka did not say whether any of the cases being re-opened were directly related to Hunter.
As the report added, Ryaboshapka’s name was mentioned during a July 25 phone call that is now at the center of Trump’s impeachment inquiry. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky assured Trump that Ryaboshapka was “his man” and would re-launch investigations into the company where Hunter was a director, the report noted.
Newly released text messages among top diplomats have shed light on the measures taken to pressure Ukraine. The messages, given to members of Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry, show U.S ambassadors working behind the scenes to persuade Ukraine to make a public statement about investigating Trump’s potential political rival, linking this with a request by the Ukrainian president to get an official White House visit.
As NBC News reported, the two Trump-appointed ambassadors even drafted language for what Zelensky would say, though at one point a diplomat named Bill Taylor pushed back to say that withholding military aid to Ukraine unless the country launched a political investigation was “crazy” and would only benefit Russia.
“As I said on the phone, I think it’s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign,” Taylor wrote.
Trump has forcefully pushed back against allegations of wrongdoing, calling the impeachment inquiry a “coup” attempt and accusing Democrats leading the inquiry of treason.