A Democratic National Committee contractor who met with Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election to try to get dirt on Donald Trump’s campaign said that she wants to testify to Congress in the impeachment inquiry.
“Given President Trump’s documented belief that the Ukrainian government meddled in the 2016 election to oppose his candidacy, which forms the basis for a reasonable desire for Ukraine to investigate the circumstances surrounding the election and any potential Ukrainian involvement, Ms. Chalupa is a prime fact witness who can assist Congress and the American public in better understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election,” Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) wrote.
In a new interview, Chalupa said she’s eager to testify.
“I’m on a mission to testify,” she told Politico.
Chalupa, founder of the political consulting firm Chalupa & Associates and a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Ethnic Council, has admitted she met with Ukrainian officials to dig up dirt on Paul Manafort, a former chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but denied doing anything nefarious.
“There were no documents given, nothing like that,” she said. “They were being very protective and not speaking to the press as much as they should have. I think they were being careful because their situation was that they had to be very, very careful because they could not pick sides. It’s a political issue, and they didn’t want to get involved politically because they couldn’t.”
According to a 2017 Politico investigation: “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers.”
Chalupa told Politico in 2017 that she shared information she found with officials from the Democratic National Committee and with Clinton’s campaign. She met with Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, and one of his top aides, Oksana Shulyar, in March 2016 at the Ukrainian Embassy. She said the embassy worked with reporters, helping guide them to damaging information about Trump and Manafort.
Shulyar denied Chalupa’s characterization of the meeting and the alleged assistance to reporters, saying: “We have never worked to research and disseminate damaging information about Donald Trump and Paul Manafort.”
Another Ukrainian embassy official, Andrii Telizhenko, said Shulyar was involved with “coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.”
Earlier this year, Chaly told The Hill’s John Solomon said that Chalupa asked the Ukrainian government for information on Manafort’s dealings inside Ukraine. Chalupa tried to arrange for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to comment about Manafort’s ties to Russia during a 2016 visit to Washington, Chaly said.
“The Embassy got to know Ms. Chalupa because of her engagement with Ukrainian and other diasporas in Washington D.C., and not in her DNC capacity. We’ve learned about her DNC involvement later,” Chaly said in a statement to The Hill.
“We were surprised to see Alexandra’s interest in Mr. Paul Manafort’s case. It was her own cause. The Embassy representatives unambiguously refused to get involved in any way, as we were convinced that this is a strictly U.S. domestic matter.
“All ideas floated by Alexandra were related to approaching a Member of Congress with a purpose to initiate hearings on Paul Manafort or letting an investigative journalist ask President Poroshenko a question about Mr. Manafort during his public talk in Washington.”
Late last year, a Ukrainian court ruled that two Ukrainian officials broke the law and interfered in the U.S. election by releasing confidential information on Manafort’s financial dealings. One of the two officials, Serhiy Leshchenko, is known to have provided information to Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm behind the infamous Clinton-funded Steele dossier. The FBI used the dossier as evidence to secure a warrant to spy on another Trump-campaign associate, Carter Page.
The case that led to the release of Manafort’s records was restarted after Obama administration officials met with Ukrainian officials at the White House in January 2016, according to Telizhenko. While Telizhenko doesn’t recall whether Manafort’s name was mentioned during the White House meeting, he specifically remembers Obama administration officials urging Ukrainian officials to restart an investigation into payments to U.S. citizens from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions. That case previously led the FBI to Manafort, but the bureau dropped the investigation in 2014 without charging him.
The Ukrainian Embassy asked Telizhenko to deal with Chalupa. Contrary to the embassy’s claims, Telizhenko told the Hill that both the ambassador and a top deputy instructed him to help Chalupa and described her as someone “working for the DNC and trying to get Clinton elected.”
According to Telizhenko, Chalupa was specific about the kind of information she was looking for.
“She said the DNC wanted to collect evidence that Trump, his organization and Manafort were Russian assets, working to hurt the U.S. and working with Putin against the U.S. interests. She indicated if we could find the evidence, they would introduce it in Congress in September and try to build a case that Trump should be removed from the ballot, from the election,” Telizhenko told The Hill.
Telizhenko was concerned that helping Chalupa might have been illegal but proceeded to carry out the assignment anyway. He used his contacts in Ukrainian intelligence, police, and prosecutorial offices to try to gather information linking Trump to Russia.
He said he felt it would be wrong to hand what he found directly to Chalupa, so he gave it to Chaly instead.
“I told him what we were doing was illegal, that it was unethical doing this as diplomats,” Telizhenko said.
Chaly took the information from Telizhenko, saying he would handle the matter. Subsequently, their relationship soured, and Telizhenko was told to return to Ukraine in June 2016. Upon arrival, Telizhenko reported what he knew to Ukraine’s top prosecutor.