Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Attended Trump’s Inauguration
The investigations are due to concerns that some of the Ukrainians were promoting plans that aligned with Russia’s interests
Photo from Ukrinform-UATV
United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors are currently examining Ukrainians who attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the New York Times reports.
The investigations are due to concerns that some of the Ukrainians who came to Washington for the inauguration, or their allies, were promoting grand bargains or “peace” plans that aligned with Russia’s interests, including by lifting sanctions.
“Such a deal would not just have given the new administration additional flexibility to bring Moscow into American diplomatic efforts in the Middle East, but could also have eased the way for a cast of characters with ties to Mr. Trump — some of whom in turn had ties to the Ukrainians who came to Washington — to move ahead on business deals that had been complicated by the sanctions,” the publication said.
There were at least a dozen Ukrainian political and business figures who were in Washington for the inauguration, several of whom attended the Liberty Ball.
They attended meetings and orchestrated encounters at Trump International hotel with influential Republican members of Congress and close allies of President Trump.
Federal prosecutors have asked witnesses about how some of the Ukrainians gained access to the events, whom they met with while they were in the U.S., and what they discussed, including questions about various peace plan proposals, according to people with direct knowledge of the questions and others who were briefed on the interviews.
As recently as last month, prosecutors were asking witnesses about illegal foreign lobbying related to Ukraine, and whether Ukrainians and other foreigners used straw donors to disguise donations to the inaugural committee. U.S. federal law prohibits foreigners from contributing to an inaugural committee, although they can attend events if Americans buy the tickets.
Lawyers for Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was paid tens of millions of dollars over the last dozen years by Russia-aligned Ukrainian interests, inadvertently revealed on Tuesday that he had communicated about a Ukraine-Russia peace plan with a business associate believed to have ties to Russian intelligence.
The associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, is a Russian citizen who has been charged by Mueller with obstruction of justice for trying to shape the testimony of witnesses to the events that led to charges of illegal foreign lobbying against Manafort.
Kilimnik was said to have received political polling data from Manafort in 2016. Manafort relayed a request to have Kilimnik pass the polling data to two Ukrainian oligarchs who had arranged or provided financing for Russian-supporting Ukrainian political parties for which Manafort had worked. One of the oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin, attended the Liberty Ball, according to one person familiar with the guest list and another who saw him there.
Sam Patten, an American consultant who worked with Kilimnik and Russia-aligned Ukrainians looking to build ties to the Trump administration, pleaded guilty in late August to charges including funneling $50,000 in money from an unnamed foreigner who matched the description of Lyovochkin, but was described in court papers only as “a prominent Ukraine oligarch” to buy tickets to exclusive Trump inauguration events for the oligarch, Kilimnik and someone described only as “another Ukrainian.”
Other Ukrainians who came to Washington during the inauguration said prosecutors had been asking wide-ranging questions.
“I have been interrogated twice by the F.B.I. and Mr. Mueller,” said Andrii V. Artemenko, who came to the inauguration as a Ukrainian member of Parliament bearing a peace proposal that was later criticized as pro-Russian. Artemenko said he had testified before Mueller’s grand jury last summer and had answered questions from the Mueller team, which included the purpose of his trip and how he got the invitations, among others.
Serhiy Kivalov, a Ukrainian lawmaker known for his pro-Russian stance, also attended the inauguration. He took photos of the event and posted them on Facebook. He wrote that “it was an honor” to attend.
|Source||The New York Times|