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Politics Ex-top Ukraine prosecutor claims refusal to open Hunter Biden inquiry a reason for firing

04:05  08 may  2021
04:05  08 may  2021 Source:   washingtonexaminer.com

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A former top Ukraine prosecutor said he believes one reason he was fired last year was for refusing to open an investigation into a Ukrainian gas company that employed Hunter Biden, the 51-year-old son of President Joe Biden, on its board.

a person standing in front of a crowd © Provided by Washington Examiner

Rouslan Riaboshapka, who served as prosecutor general of Ukraine from August 2019 to March 2020, pointed to the recently released transcript of a July 2019 call between Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and former President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

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"It reveals an important detail,” Riaboshapka told BuzzFeed on Wednesday. “Yermak promised Giuliani to open an investigation into Hunter Biden. I didn’t know about the essence of the call. I didn’t know Yermak promised to help Giuliani."

In the transcript of the 40-minute call, first reported on by TIME in February and published by BuzzFeed last month, Giuliani is quoted as saying he would like to tell Zelensky: “Just let these investigations go forward. Get someone to investigate this."

Yermak told Giuliani that Ukraine will "be ready" to cooperate and added later that "all the things" that are "important" to the U.S.-Ukraine relationship will be "deeply" investigated.

Yermak was an aide to Zelensky at the time of the call. He was elevated to the chief of staff role in February 2020 after Zelensky fired Andriy Bohdan.

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As BuzzFeed reported, Riaboshapka said he believes pressure to investigate the Bidens and the assurances given by Yermak to Giuliani in their July 2019 conversation combined to be "one of the reasons Zelensky decided to change the prosecutor general." He also said his office looked into more than a dozen cases, including those related to Burisma, but "didn't find anything that could be a violation of the law."

Zelensky's team issued a statement to BuzzFeed in response to a series of questions.

"Mr. Riaboshapka's statements may be caused by internal political circumstances in Ukraine and have nothing to do with the foreign policy of the state," the statement said. "The Office of the President is interested in developing a strong system of independent law enforcement agencies in Ukraine."

The conversation between Giuliani and Yermak took place three days before the infamous call in which Trump urged Zelensky to work with Giuliani and then-Attorney General William Barr on investigations related to the Bidens and other Democrats, according to notes on the call released by the White House.

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As Trump and his allies raised allegations of corruption focused on Burisma and Hunter Biden, Democrats cried foul over what they interpreted to be a "quid pro quo" with Ukraine, and the matter got wrapped up into an impeachment investigation.

At issue was whether the president improperly pressured Ukraine to announce investigations by withholding military aid and dangling the possibility of a White House meeting between Trump and Zelensky. Trump was impeached in late 2019 by the Democratic-controlled House on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but he was acquitted by the GOP-led Senate.

After Riaboshapka was dismissed, Iryna Venediktova was appointed prosecutor general and remains in that role to this day. She told Reuters in January that she didn't see any "necessity" to revisit the cases related to Burisma.

Riaboshapka is the second person in the Ukraine saga to tie his or her firing to Giuliani.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled in April 2019, testified during the Ukraine impeachment investigation into Trump that she was the target of a "smear campaign" and that she felt "threatened" by Giuliani and Trump prior to her removal from the ambassadorship.

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Federal investigators are now looking into Giuliani's business dealings and raided his New York City office and apartment last month.

Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor, is reportedly under investigation over whether he illegally lobbied the Trump administration in 2019 on behalf of Ukrainian individuals who were assisting him in digging up dirt on the former president's political rivals, including the Bidens.

Giuliani has denied ever representing a foreign national and claims the materials seized by the FBI are "exculpatory" evidence.

Tags: News, Hunter Biden, Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky

Original Author: Mica Soellner, Daniel Chaitin

Original Location: Ex-top Ukraine prosecutor claims refusal to open Hunter Biden inquiry a reason for firing

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