At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration's attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump's July 25 call with that country's president, according to US officials and other people familiar with the matter.
Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry in Congress believe Trump held up the aid to use it as leverage to pressure Ukraine and advance his domestic political interests.
A former comedian who won a landslide election victory in April despite having no political experience, the 41-year-old Zelensky has been unwillingly drawn into a political battle in Washington between Mr Trump and his Democratic opponents. Mr Biden's son Hunter was on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
He tried to back away from a comment attributed to him in the White House transcript of the call, in which Mr. Zelensky is quoted saying that Ukraine's new prosecutor-general would be "100 per cent my guy" and would look into the Burisma case.
"There was no blackmail".
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Volodymyr Zelenskiy said for the first time that his country will "happily" investigate the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump that it was Ukrainians, not Russians, who interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election.
Mr Zelensky said he was open to a joint investigation into Burisma and the 2016 U.S. election but stressed Ukraine was an independent country with independent law enforcement agencies whose work he had no right to influence. This real-time concern by officials in the White House directly contradicts Trump's repeated claim that the call was considered "perfect", and precede by more than two weeks the whistleblower's official complaint. "When I did find out, I raised it with [U.S. Vice-President Mike] Pence at a meeting in Warsaw", Mr. Zelensky said on Thursday.
As some 300 journalists took turns at Zelenskiy's table, no question was off limits: his awkward phone call with Donald Trump, his ties to oligarchs, his troubled peace plan for eastern Ukraine.
"And after our meeting, America unblocked the aid".
The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan says two associates of Giuliani who are accused of trying to buy influence over United States policy on Ukraine were arrested while trying to leave the country. Mr. Zelensky has been accused by Ukrainian analysts of letting Mr. Trump push him around on the call.