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As has been long suspected, the Trump Team thought they had a deal with Zelensky’s predecessor Petro Poroshenko, an oligarch who became President soon after the 2014 revolution. Zelensky’s election upset that plan and upended months of work by Trump, Giuliani, Parnas and others. Just a month before the Ukraine presidential election in March 2019, Giuliani’s henchman Parnas had arranged an interview between Poroshenko and John Solomon in which Poroshenko was going to announce investigations into the Bidens much as was demanded later from Zelensky. In exchange, Poroshenko would get a White House state visit and a strong endorsement from President Trump which Poroshenko hoped would salvage his flagging and ultimately doomed reelection campaign.
A time and date were set. Solomon prepared a list of questions that Poroshenko would answer. But at the last minute Poroshenko pulled out, apparently finding the level of intervention in the US election more than they felt they could provide. As Poroshenko’s ally Lutsenko put it in a text to Parnas days later, “I’m ready to screw your competitor [Biden], but you just want more.” Poroshenko went down to a landslide defeat a month later.
It is strikingly similar to the interview Zelesnky was all set to give to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria later in the year: an embattled head of state in desperate need of President Trump’s support, willing to do almost anything to get it and yet trying to find some way out of what they believed was an impossible position and one that likely endangered their country even beyone political interests.
The texts, question lists, and interviews Kovensky uncovered makes it clear the pressure campaign began under the previous President and seemingly bore fruit, including the earlier decisions to cease cooperation with the Mueller investigation and end investigations into Paul Manafort. Get all the details in Josh’s piece.