Trump gets Ukraine to launch investigation — but not the one he wanted

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Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Instead, it's investigating the Trump administration's possible illegal surveillance of a former U.S. ambassador.

Ukraine is launching an investigation related to Donald Trump — just not the investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden that Trump wanted.

Ukraine's interior ministry on Thursday announced it will start a criminal investigation into the possible surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, BuzzFeed's Christopher Miller reported.

Until this week, Yovanovitch looked like more of a supporting actor in the Ukraine scandal that led to Trump's impeachment.

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However, text messages released this week by Lev Parnas — an associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani — show that ousting Yovanovitch was key to the Trump-led effort to get Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelenskiy to announce an investigation of the Bidens.

The text messages show Robert F. Hyde, a Trump donor and GOP congressional candidate, telling Parnas that he is surveilling Yovanovitch — whom he called a "bitch." Hyde also suggested that Ukrainians were "willing to help if we/you would like a price" — a comment that suggests Yovanovitch might have been in danger.

Trump eventually fired Yovanovitch, after he promised the new president of Ukraine that Yovanovitch was "going to go through some things" at his behest. Yovanovitch has said she felt threatened by Trump during that time.

An official from Ukraine's interior ministry told BuzzFeed that the investigation into the possible surveillance of Yovanovitch is now necessary.

"Ukraine cannot ignore such illegal activities on its territory," the official told BuzzFeed.

Ultimately, Trump's impeachment all stems from the effort to withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to force the country's leadership into investigating Biden.

Ukraine never launched that investigation. After a whistleblower reported the effort,  the Trump administration released the military aid, which Congress had appropriated to help Ukraine fend off Russian aggression — a key U.S. foreign policy objective.

Trump has repeatedly denied he did anything wrong, saying his phone call with the Ukrainian president in which he asked for a "favor" was "perfect."

However, evidence shows that the effort went far beyond that phone call, with top administration officials all working together to coerce Ukraine into investigating the Bidens.

In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Wednesday night, Parnas said "Trump knew exactly what was going on" with the effort to withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to get the Biden investigation.

"He was aware of all my movements," Parnas told Maddow. "I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President."

Parnas also implicated Mike Pence in the effort, saying that Pence heeded a Trump order to not attend Zelenskiy's inauguration as yet another tactic to force the Biden investigation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.