Impeachment, Ukraine and the Whistle-Blower’s Complaint: Meet the Key Players | NYT News

Congressman: “Sir, let me
repeat my question: Did you ever speak
to the president about this complaint?” Congress is
investigating allegations that President Trump
pushed a foreign government to dig up dirt on his
Democratic rivals. “It’s just a
Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again.” At the heart of an
impeachment inquiry is a nine-page
whistle-blower complaint that names over
two dozen people. Not counting the
president himself, these are the
people that appear the most: First, Trump’s personal
lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani. According to documents
and interviews, Giuliani has been involved
in shadowy diplomacy on behalf of the
president’s interests. He encouraged
Ukrainian officials to investigate the
Biden family’s activities in the country, plus
other avenues that could benefit Trump like
whether the Ukrainians intentionally helped the
Democrats during the 2016 election. It was an agenda he
also pushed on TV. “So you did ask Ukraine
to look into Joe Biden.” “Of course I did!” A person Giuliani worked with,
Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former
prosecutor general. He pushed for investigations
that would also benefit Giuliani and Trump. Lutsenko also discussed
conspiracy theories about the Bidens
in the U.S. media. But he later walked
back his allegations, saying there was no evidence
of wrongdoing by the Bidens. This is where
Hunter Biden comes in, the former
vice president’s son. He served on the board
of a Ukrainian energy company run by this guy, who’s
had some issues with the law. While Biden was in office,
he along with others, called for the dismissal
of Lutsenko’s predecessor, a prosecutor named
Viktor Shokin, whose office was
overseeing investigations into the company that
Hunter Biden was involved with. Shokin was later voted out
by the Ukrainian government. Lutsenko replaced him,
but was widely criticized for corruption himself. When a new president
took office in May, Volodymyr Zelensky, Zelensky said that he’d
replace Lutsenko. Giuliani and Trump? Not happy. They viewed Lutsenko
as their ally. During a July 25
call between Trump and the new
Ukrainian president, Trump defended him,
saying, “I heard you had a prosecutor
who is very good and he was shut down and that’s really unfair.” In that phone call, Trump
also allegedly asked his counterpart to
continue the investigation into Joe Biden, who is his main
rival in the 2020 election. Zelensky has publicly denied
feeling pressured by Trump. “In other words,
no pressure.” And then finally,
Attorney General William Barr, who also came up in
the July 25 call. In the reconstructed transcript, Trump repeatedly
suggested that Zelensky’s administration could work
with Barr and Giuliani to investigate the
Bidens and other matters of political interest to Trump. Since the whistle-blower
complaint was made public, Democrats have criticized Barr
for dismissing allegations that Trump had violated campaign finance laws during
his call with Zelensky and not passing along the
complaint to Congress. House Democrats have now
subpoenaed several people mentioned in the complaint,
as an impeachment inquiry into the president’s
conduct continues.