Ukraine's Zelensky says Trump did not blackmail him in call

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says

National security officials complained to a White House lawyer about US President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine both before his phone call with President Volodymyr Zelensky and immediately after it, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

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.

When asked how he persuaded the U.S.to release the aid, Zelensky said: "We have many diplomatic contacts".

"If I, as President of Ukraine, comment on [the legality of] Mr. Trump's conversation, then this is interference, first in your legislative system, and it will be interference with your future elections", Mr. Zelensky said in a response to a question from an American reporter. While he fielded questions in Ukrainian, Russian and English from journalists sitting with him around a table, others sat below eating. Joe Biden is a leading contender for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 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. But he avoided saying when those investigations might happen, or how they'd be carried out.

The White House published its summary of the call between Mr Zelensky and Mr Trump in September.

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Volodymyr Zelensky, a popular comedian before he was elected president of Ukraine this spring, promised to bring a fresh kind of politics to the ex-Soviet nation. None of the previous investigations apply to the period when Hunter Biden was serving on Burisma's board.

"I had no idea the military aid was held up. 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.

Zelenskiy is giving an all-day "press marathon" amid growing questions about his actions as president.

The security officials - at least four of them - raised their concerns with National Security Council legal advisor John Eisenberg, the Post said, citing United States officials and other people familiar with the matter. After nine hours, the 41-year-old president was still going strong. However, their contemporaneous alarm over Trump's conduct on the call would undermine the relevance of questioning the 18-day gap between the call and the whistleblower complaint by the president's defenders.

The July call embarrassed Zelenskiy because it showed him as eager to please Trump and critical of European partners whose support he needs to strengthen Ukraine's economy and to end the conflict with Russian Federation.

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