Ukraine’s new chief prosecutor on Friday said he was unaware of any evidence of wrongdoing by the former Vice President Joe Biden’s son – and that his office will conduct an “audit” of a probe into a gas company where Hunter Biden sat on the board.
President Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky in a July 25 phone call to investigate the Bidens, a conversation that triggered an impeachment inquiry into whether he sought political gain by pushing for a foreign probe into his rival.
“I have no such information,” General Prosecutor Ruslan Ryaboshapka told Reuters when asked whether he had evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden.
Asked if Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani had contacted him, Ryaboshapka said during a press conference that no foreigners had been in touch with his office.
Ryaboshapka said his office was reviewing criminal cases opened by his predecessor, including some that could relate to the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which had recruited the younger Biden in 2014.
Trump has alleged that a criminal investigation of Burisma was closed in 2016 because of pressure by then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Ukrainian officials have said the probe was focused on the years 2010 to 2012, before the younger Biden joined the board. They also have said there was no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.
Ryaboshapka told reporters Friday that he was aware of at least 15 probes that may have touched on Burisma, its owner Nikolai Zlochevsky, associate Serhiy Zerchenko and Biden, and that all will be reviewed, The Washington Post reported.
The main case against Burisma was launched by the former top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, after the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Joe Biden and other Western officials pushed for Shokin’s dismissal from the office because they insisted he was not pursuing corruption cases enough.
David Sakvarelidze, a former deputy to Shokin, told The Washington Post that the Burisma case was shut down by Shokin’s successor, Yuri Lutsenko, after a deal was reached in which the company agreed to sell natural gas to companies controlled by then-President Petro Poroshenko.
On Friday, Ryaboshapka also was asked about correspondence that was turned over to the House of Representatives on Thursday by Kurt Volker, the former special US envoy for Ukraine.
Text messages show that Volker was helping to arrange a meeting between Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyers, and Andriy Yermak, foreign affairs adviser to Zelensky.
“These questions,” Ryaboshapka said, “should be addressed to the authors of this correspondence,” adding that his office “is independent of the office of the president and of political influence by that office.”
On Thursday, Trump again invited foreign interference in a US presidential election by publicly calling on China to investigate Joe Biden.
Calling the impeachment probe as “crap,” the president said he believed that both China and Ukraine should look into the Bidens.
With Post wires
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