- Republican senators request records related to reported Ukraine-Democrats' role in 2016 anti-Trump efforts
- Democrats deny both interference by Ukraine, and coordination between Ukraine and Democrats
- Timeline of key allegations and events follows
This article was first published Nov. 24, 2019
The heads of two Senate committees are asking the FBI and the Department of Justice for records related to a reported scheme by Democrats to get "dirt" on the Trump campaign from Ukraine in 2016.
Both Politico and Yahoo News interviewed a Democratic National Committee (DNC) consultant named Alexandra Chalupa.
Democrats have repeatedly claimed the reporting on Chalupa, her work for the DNC, her meetings with Ukrainians, and her meetings with reporters in Ukraine and the U.S., is "debunked" and a "conspiracy theory." In public accounts since the original news articles, Chalupa has claimed her role and intentions have been misrepresented.
A Ukrainian-American, Chalupa reportedly acknowledged in a 2017 interview with Politico that she worked as a consultant for the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 campaign to publicly expose Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort's links to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
Chalupa reportedly told Politico that she began researching Manafort in 2014.
In 2014, the FBI investigated, and then reportedly wiretapped, Manafort for allegedly not properly disclosing Russia-related work. FBI failed to make a case at the time, according to CNN, and discontinued the wiretap.
On March 25, 2016, according to Politico, Chalupa--who previously worked in the Clinton administration--met with top Ukrainian officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington D.C. in an effort to tarnish the Trump campaign in favor of Hillary Clinton by exposing "ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia.”
The Ukrainian embassy proceeded to work “directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort and Russia to point them in the right directions,” according to an embassy official (though other officials later deny engaging in election-related activities.)
On March 30, 2016, Chalupa reportedly briefed Democratic National Committee (DNC) staff on alleged Russian ties to Manafort and Trump. It was the day after the Trump campaign hired Manafort to manage the July Republican convention.
With the “DNC’s encouragement,” Chalupa reportedly asked the Ukrainian embassy to arrange a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss Manafort’s lobbying for Ukraine’s former president Viktor Yanukovych. The embassy reportedly declined to arrange the meeting but became “helpful” in trading info and leads, according to Politico's reporting.
Ukrainian embassy officials and Chalupa “coordinat[ed] an investigation with the Hillary team” into Manafort, according to a source in Politico. This effort reportedly included working with U.S. media.
In April 2016, Ukrainian member of parliament Olga Bielkova reportedly sought meetings with five dozen members of U.S. Congress and reporters including former New York Times reporter Judy Miller, David Sanger of New York Times, David Ignatius of Washington Post, and Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt.
The week of April 6, 2016, Chalupa and the office of Rep. Mary Kaptur (D-Ohio), co-chair of Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, reportedly discussed holding a possible congressional investigation or hearing on Paul Manafort and Russia “by September.” Chalupa says she began working with reporter Mike Isikoff around this time.
On April 12, 2016, Ukrainian parliament member Olga Bielkova and a colleague met with Sen. John McCain associate David Kramer with the McCain Institute, according to government records. Bielkova also met with Liz Zentos of Obama’s National Security Council, and State Department official Michael Kimmage. (Kramer is an ex-U.S. State Dept. official affiliated with the anti-Russia “Ukraine Today” media organization. He and Sen. McCain would later retrieve the anti-Trump dossier from a source in London.)
On April 26, 2016, reporter Michael Isikoff published a story on Yahoo News about Paul Manafort’s business dealings with a Russian oligarch.
On April 28, 2016, Chalupa reportedly was invited to discuss her research about Manafort with 68 investigative journalists from Ukraine at the Library of Congress for the Open World Leadership Center, a U.S. congressional agency. Chalupa said she invited reporter Isikoff to “connect him to the Ukrainians.” After the event, reporter Isikoff reportedly accompanied Chalupa to a Ukrainian embassy reception.
On May 3, 2016, Chalupa emailed the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that she would share with them sensitive information about Paul Manafort “offline” including “a big Trump component…that will hit in next few weeks.”
Late July 2016, Chalupa reportedly left the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to work full-time on her research into Manafort, Trump and Russia; and she provided off-the-record guidance to “a lot of journalists.” This was the same time frame when FBI agent Peter Strzok opened a counterintelligence investigation based on Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos.
On Aug. 3, 2016 Justice Department official Bruce Ohr reportedly met with FBI official Andrew McCabe and FBI lawyer Lisa Page to discuss Russia-Trump collusion allegations relayed by ex-British spy Christopher Steele.
The next day, on Aug. 4, 2016, the Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. wrote an op-ed against Trump published in The Hill.
On Aug. 8, 2016, FBI attorney Lisa Page and FBI’s head of Counterespionage Strzok pledged, in text messages, that they would "stop" Trump from becoming president.
On Aug. 14, 2016, the New York Times broke a story about Manafort allegedly taking improper cash payments a decade before from pro-Russia interests in Ukraine. Ukraine's so called "black ledger" showing the cash payments was publicized by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, which signed an evidence-sharing agreement with the Obama administration's the FBI related to the Trump-Russia probe.
Ukraine had formed the National Anti-Corruption Bureau back in 2014 as a condition to receive U.S. aid.
On Aug. 15, 2016, CNN reported the FBI was conducting an inquiry into the Manafort payments from Ukraine.
On Aug. 19, 2016, Manafort resigned as Trump campaign chairman.
The same day, Ukrainian parliament member Sergii Leshchenko, a deputy of the 'Petro Poroshenko Bloc' political party, held a news conference to draw attention to Manafort and Trump’s “pro-Russia” ties. (The original link to a photo of the news conference was recently cleared.)
At the news conference in Ukraine, Leshchenko was said to be exposing "a firm run by U.S. businessman and Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who reportedly directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine's ruling political party, attempting to sway the American public's opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government, during the presidential period of Victor Yanukovich, according to a report of the Ukrainian Independent Information Agency (UNIAN)."
Three days later (Aug. 22, 2016), Justice Dept. official Bruce Ohr met with Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson, who reportedly identified several “possible intermediaries” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Sept. 23, 2016: Reporter Michael Isikoff published a Yahoo article on the anti-Trump "dossier" and implicating Trump volunteer Carter Page, a U.S. citizen whom the FBI later wiretapped as a supposed Russian agent for a year, but never charged. The way wiretaps work, the FBI would have allowed itself to collect all emails, phone calls, photos and communications from hundreds of people around Page: everyone who communicated with him, and everyone who communicated with those people (two "hops" away), possibly including Trump in the surveillance dragnet.
Nov. 18-20, 2016, Sen. John McCain and his longtime adviser, David Kramer–an ex-U.S. State Dept. official–attended a security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia where the former UK ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood tells them about the Fusion GPS anti-Trump dossier. (Kramer is affiliated with the anti-Russia “Ukraine Today” media organization). They discuss taking steps to confirm that the info has reached top levels of FBI for action.
On Nov. 28, 2016, Sen. McCain associate Kramer flew to London to meet Christopher Steele of Fusion GPS for a briefing on the anti-Trump research. Afterward, Fusion GPS’ Glenn Simpson reportedly gave McCain a copy of the “dossier.” Steele also passed the anti-Trump info a to top UK government official in charge of national security. McCain soon arranged a meeting with FBI Director James Comey.
On Feb. 22, 2018, Kramer invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify before House Intelligence Committee.
Meantime, Chalupa reported she believed she was targeted by a government-related cyberattack while working at the DNC. As a result, the FBI interviewed her and obtained forensic images of her laptop computer and phone.
That's part of the new document request Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), head of the Homeland Security Committee; and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), head of Finance Committee. They wrote a letter this past week to Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for records, including forensic images of Chalupa's devices, related to the FBI investigation.
If this reporting [about the FBI and DOJ obtaining forensic images of Chalupa's devices in 2016] is accurate, it appears that the DOJ and FBI have in their possession material relevant to our Committees’ ongoing investigation into collusive actions Chalupa and the DNC took to use foreign government sources to undermine the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in letter to DOJ and FBI
According to a news release from Senator Grassley, he "first raised concerns in 2017 about Chalupa’s activity on behalf of the DNC to coordinate with a foreign government to sabotage the Trump campaign."
In a September letter, Grassley and Johnson asked the Justice Department whether it was looking into Ukrainian coordination with Democrats or Hillary Clinton campaign officials in 2016.
The two senators are also seeking records from the National Archives to obtain White House visitor log records regarding any meetings between Chalupa, Ukrainians, and Obama officials.
Click here to read the letter to the FBI and DOJ.