Ukraine’s President Says ‘No Blackmail’ Happened in Phone Call With Trump

Zelenskiy said Ukraine would investigate because otherwise we "can't say yes or no" as to whether there was any such interference.

The US House of Representatives has launched an impeachment inquiry against Mr Trump, focused on whether he used congressionally approved aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure Mr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden, one of Mr Trump's main Democratic rivals as he seeks re-election in 2020.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denied Thursday that Donald Trump tried to blackmail him by withholding military aid to Kiev in a phone call between the two leaders. He said the Ukrainian stenogramme of the conversation matched the English one.

The July call embarrassed the 41-year-old president 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.

Mr Zelensky also said he does not believe US-Ukraine relations will be affected by the inquiry into the call.

Zelenskiy appears to be playing to both USA political camps to ensure Ukraine has continued support no matter who wins the presidential election next year.

"I don't want to be pulled into this because I understand that my words could impact the elections of the American people", he added.

While Mr Zelensky was speaking, prosecutors in the United States said two of Mr Giuliani's associates had been arrested in a scheme to illegally funnel money to a pro-Trump election committee and other USA political candidates.

Mr Trump has made allegations, without evidence, that Mr Biden engaged in improper dealings in Ukraine.

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Trump wanted Kiev to investigate Hunter Biden's activities in Ukrainian gas firm Burisma.

Zelensky said it benefits Ukraine to definitively answer the question of whether interference in the US election came from Ukraine, and the only way he can say "yes or no" to whether it happened is to investigate.

Former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis speaks to FOX Business' Trish Regan about the controversy surrounding Ukraine and the Biden family. "And in case we need to find a solution to questions of this level, questions about our country's security, we use all our powerful possibilities".

He spoke Thursday during an unusual, all-day "media marathon" in a Kyiv food court amid growing questions about his actions as president.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Kiev on Thursday, Mr Zelensky said of his 25 July call with Mr Trump: "There was no blackmail".

"Biden on Wednesday for the first time called for Trump's impeachment".

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.

Zelenskiy also joked about Trump's Twitter missives, saying he doesn't expect a change in US-Ukrainian relations in the future, 'but if there is, we'll learn about it on Twitter'.

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