Nunes: DNC Staffer Worked with Ukraine to Dig Up Dirt on Trump During 2016 Election

Melanie Arter | November 13, 2019 | 12:35pm EST
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 (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

( – A staffer with the Democratic National Committee worked with Ukrainian officials to undermine the Trump campaign and pass along dirt from the Ukrainians to the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday.

During the first day of impeachment hearings, Nunes said that at heart of the Democrats’ impeachment drive is the “core mistruth” that President Donald Trump “tried to get the Ukrainians to ‘manufacture dirt against his political rivals.’”


This is supported by precisely zero evidence. Once again, the Democrats simply made it up, but let’s consider the broader question about why President Trump may have wanted answers to questions about Ukraine meddling in 2016. The Democrats downplay, ignore, outright deny the many indications that Ukrainians actually did meddle in the election – a shocking about-face for people who for three years argued that foreign election meddling was an intolerable crime that threatened the heart of our democracy.

While the brazen suddenness of this U-turn is jarring, this denial is a necessary part of their argument. After all, if there actually were indications of Ukraine election-meddling, and if foreign election meddling is a dire threat, then President Trump would have a perfectly good reason for wanting to find out what happened, and since the meddling was aimed against his campaign, he’d have good reason for sending his personal attorney to make inquiries about it.

What’s strange is that some of the witnesses at these hearings and previous depositions who express alarm about these inquiries were remarkably uninformed about these indications of Ukrainian election-meddling and why the president may have been concerned by them. For example, I noted previously, Alexandra Chalupa, former staffer for the Democratic National Committee, admitted to Politico that she worked with officials at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to dig up dirt on the Trump campaign, which she passed on to the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Nunes asked U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor whether he’d heard about the efforts of former DNC staffer Alexandra Chalupa to dig up dirt on Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

NUNES: Chalupa revealed that Ukrainian officials themselves were also working directly with reporters to trade information and leads about the Trump campaign. Ambassador Kent, you didn’t seem to be concerned about it in the last round of questioning, so I’ll just skip you, ‘cause we know that wasn’t a concern, but Ambassador Taylor, you testified to this committee that you only recently became aware of reports of this cooperation between Ukrainian officials and Chalupa to undermine the Trump campaign in your last deposition. Is that correct?

TAYLOR: Mr. Nunes, it is correct that I had not known about this before. 

NUNES: I’m just going over your last deposition, Ambassador. The Politico article cites three named Ukrainian officials asserting that the Ukrainian Embassy supported the Hillary Clinton campaign. It quotes Ukrainian Parliamentarian Andriy Artemenko saying, ‘It was clear they were supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. They did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing Trump. I think that they simply didn’t meet with the Trump campaign, because they thought Hillary would win.’
Ambassador Taylor, you testified you were unfamiliar with that statement. Is that correct?

TAYLOR: That’s correct.

NUNES: You also said you were unaware that then Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Valeriy Chaly wrote an op-ed in The Hill during the 2016 presidential campaign criticizing then-candidate Trump. Is that correct?

TAYLOR: That is correct.

NUNES: You said you did not know that Sergei Leschenko, then a Ukrainian parliamentarian had admitted that part of his motivation in spreading information about the so-called black ledger – a disputed document purporting to reveal corruption by a former Trump campaign official was to undermine the Trump’s candidacy. This was in your deposition. Is that still correct?

TAYLOR: That’s still correct, sir.

NUNES: Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Orr testified to Congress that Leschenko was a source for Fusion GPS’s operation to dirty up the Trump campaign, including the compilation of the Steele dossier on behalf of the DNC and the Clinton campaign. You testified you were unaware that Leschenko served as a source for that project. Ambassador Taylor, is this still correct?

TAYLOR: It is, sir.

NUNES: You said you did not know that Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister Arsan Avakav mocked and disparaged then-candidate Trump on Facebook and Twitter. Is that still correct?

TAYLOR: That is correct.

NUNES: Ambassador Taylor, in your testimony to this committee, you said you were never briefed on these reports and statements, that you did not do due diligence before taking your post to discover that the president’s and Mayor Giuliani’s concerns may have been and that you did – what they may have been and that you did not discuss them with Ambassador Yuvanovich. Is that still correct?

TAYLOR: Yes, sir.

NUNES: Furthermore, you said it upset you to hear about the many indications of Ukrainian election meddling. Your precise words were – I’m going to read them back to you – ‘based on this political article, which again surprises me, disappoints me, because I think it’s a mistake for any diplomat or government official in one country to interfere in the political life of another. That’s disappointing.’ Ambassador Taylor, is that still your testimony?

TAYLOR: Mr. Nunes, it is. Subsequent to that, I looked into the circumstances for several of the things that you just mentioned. In 2016, candidate Trump had made a statement saying that it was possible that he would allow Crimea to go back to Russia. He expressed the sentiment or the opinion that it’s possible that Crimea wanted to go back to Russia. What I can tell you, Mr. Nunes, is that that sentiment is amazingly inflammatory to all Ukrainians, so---

NUNES: So, I can understand that. Are you aware during the – I believe it was the 2012 election when at the time President Obama leaned over on a hot mic to the then Russian president and said that he’d have to wait til after the election. Was that inflammatory to the Ukrainians also?

TAYLOR: I don’t know, sir.

NUNES: I just want to be clear that some government officials oppose President Trump’s approach to Ukraine, but many had no idea what concerned him. In this case, it was numerous indications of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election to oppose his campaign and support Hillary Clinton. Once you know that, it’s easy to understand the president’s desire to get to the bottom of this corruption and to discover exactly what happened in the 2016 election.



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