Trumps request that Ukraine help find dirt on Joe Biden has led to an impeachment inquiry and drawn in multiple people

Donald Trump

Democrats announced an official impeachment inquiry into Trump on 24 Septemberfollowing a whistleblowers complaint about Trumps interactions with the president of Ukraine. A White House summary of a 25 July call shows Trump pressed Volodymyr Zelenskiy to work with the US attorney general and Rudy Giuliani, to investigate his political rival Joe Biden in the run-up the 2020 US election. Trump told Zelenskiy to look into unfounded and debunked allegations that Biden helped remove a Ukrainian prosecutor who had investigated a company tied to his son Hunter.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Ukraines new president was a wildcard candidate who had no experience of politics save for playing the president in a television comedy. In a remarkable plot twist, hes now been thrust into the centre of an American political scandal. I dont want to be involved in democratic elections of the USA, Zelenskiy said in September, visibly embarrassed after the release of the summary. We had a good phone call. It was normal. You read it. Nobody pushed me.

Joe Biden

Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Currently a strong candidate in the 2020 race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Biden was the vice-president in 2016, when the Obama administration pressured Ukraine to remove Viktor Shokin, the countrys top prosecutor; the US and other western countries said Shokin was corrupt. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden. This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is a national security issue, Biden said.

Hunter Biden

Photograph: Pablo Martnez Monsivis/AP

Joe Bidens second son served on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas producer, from 2014 to 2019. Burisma had been investigated by Shokin for alleged corruption, but the investigation had been dropped by the time the US government urged Ukraine to fire Shokin.

Viktor Shokin

Photograph: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The former Ukrainian prosecutor general was widely seen as having blocked the prosecutions of corrupt oligarchs. Reform-minded Ukrainian politicians and international partners pressured the Ukrainian government to remove him for some time, and he was finally dismissed in 2016. He was later reinvented as a kind of heroic victim by Giuliani, who claimed without evidence that Shokin was fired on Bidens orders.

Rudy Giuliani

Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

The former mayor of New York is Trumps personal attorney, most strident TV defender and, it seems, occasional diplomat. The rough transcript of the Trump-Zelenskiy phone call shows Trump telling the Ukraine president to work with Giuliani in investigating Joe Biden. According to the whistleblowers complaint, US officials were concerned about Giulianis role in communications with Kyiv.

William Bill Barr

Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

The attorney general is named by Trump in the call with Zelenskiy, the president saying Zelenskiy should work with Barr and Giuliani to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. The Department of Justice, which Barr oversees, said Trump had not asked Barr to work with Ukraine. The DoJ examined the Trump-Zelenskiy call but decided not to open an investigation a decision which has been criticized by legal analysts.

The whistleblower

Photograph: Alamy

Little is known about the identity of the person who ignited the firestorm engulfing Trump. Testifying on Thursday before Congress, the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, said he did not know who the whistleblower was; Trump has said the same. The whistleblower has retained a lawyer and is said to be willing to testify before Congress. The New York Times reported the whistleblower is a CIA officer.

Kurt Volker

Photograph: Jos Luis Magaa/AP

The former US special envoy to Ukraine, Volker resigned from the state department and met with congressional investigators, turning over records of WhatsApp chats in which he and other US diplomats worked to arrange a deal between Zelenskiy and Trump in which Trump would invite Zelenskiy to the White House and Zelenskiy would make a public statement that Ukraine had opened investigations of Burisma and election tampering. I think Potus really wants the deliverable, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union, said on the chats.

Gordon Sondland

Photograph: Franois Lenoir/Reuters

A wealthy hotelier, Trump mega-donor and now US ambassador to the European Union. In the chats turned over by Volker, Sondland, whose usual portfolio does not include Ukraine, pushed Volker and a third diplomat, Bill Taylor, to get what Trump wants from Zelenskiy. When Taylor chatted, Are we now saying that security assistance and WH meeting are conditioned on investigations? Sondland replied: Call me. Sondland agreed to testify before Congress but superiors at the state department blocked his testimony. Ambassador Sondland is profoundly disappointed that he will not be able to testify today, his lawyer said. He stands ready to testify on short notice, whenever he is permitted to appear.

William Bill Taylor

Photograph: NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A former military officer and state department official, former ambassador to Ukraine and senior executive at the US Institute of Peace. Taylor returned to government to fill the role of charg daffaires in the US embassy in Ukraine after his predecessor, Marie Yovanovitch, who bridled at the Trump administrations agenda in Ukraine, was pushed out. In the chats, Taylor repeatedly expressed alarm about the deal Sondland was trying to put together. As I said on the phone, I think its crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign, Taylor wrote. House investigators said they wish to speak with Taylor.

Joseph Maguire

Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The acting director of national intelligence only took on the role on 16 August. Maguire has been criticized for not sharing the whistleblowers complaint with Congress as is normal procedure. The acting director said he thought issues raised in the complaint might be covered by executive privilege, and he said he consulted with officials at the justice department and White House lawyers over whether to pass the complaint to Congress. The White House eventually published the complaint.

Michael Atkinson

Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

After receiving the complaint, Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, recommended it be shared with Congress. This put Atkinson at odds with his superior, Maguire, who blocked it from being shared. While the complaint was being withheld, Atkinson alerted lawmakers to its existence, saying it raised issues of urgent concern.

Nancy Pelosi

Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The speaker of the House, and the most powerful woman in Congress, Pelosi decided to initiate an impeachment inquiry after the rough transcript of the Trump-Zelenskiy call was published on Wednesday. In doing so, Pelosi succumbed to long-mounting pressure from Democratic members of Congress, some of whom had been pushing for an impeachment inquiry to begin for more than a year.

Yuriy Lutsenko

Photograph: Sopa Images/Getty Images

A veteran on the political scene, Lutsenko replaced Shokin as Ukraines prosecutor general but was also viewed with suspicion by reformers. Lutsenko met Giuliani and appears to have been amenable to opening an investigation into unsubstantiated claims of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 US election on behalf of the Democrats. Ukrainian officials have denied any effort to help Hillary Clinton in the election.

Marie Yovanovitch

Photograph: NurPhoto via Getty Images

Yovanovitch was the US ambassador to Ukraine for almost three years before being unexpectedly recalled by Trump in May this year. Trump criticized Yovanovitch in his call with Zelenskiy, describing her as bad news. In March, Yovanovitch called on Ukraine to do more to address corruption. Then Lutsenko accused Yovanovitch of giving Ukraine a list of people whom we should not prosecute. Lutsenko has since said Yovanovitch did not give him such a list.

Serhiy Leshchenko

Photograph: NurPhoto via Getty Images

One of the new brand of politicians who entered the scene after Ukraines Maidan revolution, Leshchenko was a leading political journalist who wrote widely on corruption and became an MP. In May 2016, he published information from a so-called black ledger that showed under-the-table payments from the pro-Russian former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovychs regime to various figures including Trumps former 2016 campaign manager Paul Manafort. This led to Manaforts resignation from the campaign. Leshchenko later became an adviser to Zelenskiy and has said that before this week, it was a clear fact that Trump wants to meet [Ukrainian officials] only if Biden case will be included.



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