Top aide to Ukrainian president denies quid pro quo: ‘We never had that feeling’

A significant part of House Democrats’ impeachment effort hinges on the allegation that President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden in exchange for an invitation to the White House and the release of temporarily withheld military aid.

But according to Breitbart, a top adviser to Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, just undermined that narrative by publicly stating — yet again — that he and Zelensky were never aware of any link between the requested investigations and withheld military aid.

Quid pro quo?

Yermak’s remarks came just about an hour after House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment against the president for alleged “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” related to the contrived controversy regarding Ukraine.

The allegation of “abuse of power” clearly spells out a supposed “corrupt” link between the delivery of temporarily withheld military aid (and an invitation to the White House) and an announcement by Ukraine that it would investigate alleged 2016 election interference.

However, Yermak’s remarks in a recent interview with TIME magazine don’t support that assertion by Democrats at all. The top adviser to the Ukrainian president disputed several key aspects of what was heard during the impeachment inquiry hearings, particularly on his own reported actions.

With respect to the assertion of pressure or a connection between announced investigations and the withheld aid, Yermak told TIME: “We never had that feeling.”

“We had a clear understanding that the aid has been frozen. We honestly said, ‘OK, that’s bad, what’s going on here.’ We were told that they would figure it out,” Yermak recalled. “And after a certain amount of time, the aid was unfrozen. We did not have the feeling that this aid was connected to any one specific issue.”

That assertion from Yermak is in line with what his boss, Zelensky, has said: that he is not aware of a link or “quid pro quo” between the aid and requested investigations, nor had he ever felt pressured to open an investigation in order to get anything in exchange from the U.S.

Looking forward

For his part, Yermak also took issue with the characterization of a supposed one-on-one meeting he had in Poland with Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union. Sondland testified under oath that he spoke with Yermak on the connection between the aid and announcements, but Yermak explained they merely bumped into each other at an escalator with other people around and made small talk.

Aside from potentially revealing that Sondland may well have committed perjury during his testimony, Yermak also took great issue with how some of his private communications with various U.S. officials had been publicized as part of the impeachment hearings, some of which were in regard to the requested investigations.

The aide strongly implied that those messages had been taken out of context and didn’t mean exactly what some had interpreted them to mean, at least with regard to the Democrat-alleged connections, though he declined to provide any additional details on the matter, choosing instead to retain whatever privacy he still had left.

These comments from Yermak are devastating blows to the Democrats’ impeachment effort and undermine a key aspect of the accusations against President Trump. It is even more clear than it was before that the accusations are baseless — and it is time for this charade to end.

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