Johnson, Grassley Request Records from 2016 White House Meetings Between Obama Administration and Ukrainian Government, DNC Officials

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to Archivist David Ferriero of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration Thursday to request records of multiple White House meetings that took place in 2016 between and among Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials.

According to recent reports, in January 2016 Ukrainian governmental officials and corruption investigators met with members of former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of State and Department of Justice (DOJ). Obama Administration officials also met with Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor for the DNC, who reportedly worked with Ukrainian officials to undermine the Trump campaign. 

The senators wrote, “According to Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer in the Ukraine Embassy in Washington, D.C. who participated in a January 2016 meeting, ‘U.S. officials volunteered . . . that they had an interest in reviving a closed investigation into payments to U.S. figures from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions,’ which refers to the investigation that involved Paul Manafort. He ‘recalled DOJ officials asking investigators from Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) if they could help locate new evidence about the Party of Regions’ payments and its dealings with Americans.’

“During that same meeting, U.S. officials also reportedly brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company that had hired then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to serve as a board member. According to Telizhenko, ‘U.S. officials told the Ukrainians they would prefer that Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.’ …

 

“White House meeting records also show that Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American operative “who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, attended numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with President Obama.”

Full text of the letter is below, and the letter can be viewed here.

November 21, 2019

The Honorable David S. Ferriero

Archivist of the United States

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20408

 

Dear Mr. Ferriero:

We write to request records of multiple White House meetings that took place in 2016 between and among Obama administration officials, Ukrainian government representatives, and Democratic National Committee (DNC) officials.  According to recent reports, in January 2016 “some of Ukraine’s top corruption prosecutors and investigators [met] face to face with members of former President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC), FBI, State Department and Department of Justice (DOJ).”[1]  Other meetings included Alexandra Chalupa, a contractor for the DNC, who reportedly worked with Ukrainian government officials to undermine the Trump campaign. 

According to Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer in the Ukraine Embassy in Washington, D.C. who participated in a January 2016 meeting, “U.S. officials volunteered . . . that they had an interest in reviving a closed investigation into payments to U.S. figures from Ukraine’s Russia-backed Party of Regions,” which refers to the investigation that involved Paul Manafort.[2]  He “recalled DOJ officials asking investigators from Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) if they could help locate new evidence about the Party of Regions’ payments and its dealings with Americans.”[3] 

During that same meeting, U.S. officials also reportedly brought up investigations relating to Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian gas company that had hired then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to serve as a board member.[4]  According to Telizhenko, “U.S. officials told the Ukrainians they would prefer that Kiev drop the Burisma probe and allow the FBI to take it over.”[5]

According to that same reporting, there were multiple meetings between U.S. officials and Ukrainian authorities in January 2016.   It noted that at least one of these meetings was held in the White House’s Old Executive Office Building (OEOB), and confirmed that Nazar Kholodnytskyy, the head of Ukraine’s Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, attended some but not all of these meetings.[6]

White House meeting records also show that Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American operative “who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, attended numerous meetings at the White House, including one event with President Obama.[7] 

Chalupa reportedly worked to get dirt on Trump from the Ukrainians.  For example, in March 2016, Chalupa reportedly met with Valeriy Chaly, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S., and Oksana Shulyar, a top aid to the Ukrainian ambassador, to share her alleged concerns about Manafort.[8]  Reports state that the purpose of that initial meeting was to “organize a June reception at the embassy to promote Ukraine.”[9]  However, Ukrainian embassy official Andrii Telizhenko told Politico that Shulyar instructed him to assist Chalupa with research to connect Trump, Manafort, and the Russians.[10]  He reportedly said, “[t]hey were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa” and that “Oksana [Shulyar] was keeping it all quiet…the embassy worked very closely with” Chalupa.[11]    According to Telizhenko:

[Chalupa] 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 [Russian President Vladimir] 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.[12]

White House visitor logs indicate that Chalupa visited the White House on at least 27 occasions.[13]  In 2016, the year of the presidential election, she visited the White House at least five times on January 12, 2016; February 22, 2016; April 4, 2016; May 13, 2016; and June 14, 2016.[14]

In order to better understand the nature of these meetings, including who attended and what was discussed, please provide the following information:

  1. All records[15] relating to the five White House meetings listed above—January 12, 2016; February 22, 2016; April 4, 2016; May 13, 2016; and June 14, 2016—including, but not limited to:
    1. Purpose and attendees;
    2. Notes or transcriptions from the meetings; and
    3. Communications about the meetings.
  1. All records relating to meetings between and among White House officials, Andrii Telizhenko, Nazar Kholodnytskyy, Oksana Shulyar, and Valeriy Chaly including, but not limited to:
    1. Purpose and attendees;
    2. Notes or transcriptions from the meetings; and
    3. Communications about the meetings.

Please provide these documents as soon as possible but no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 5, 2019.

We anticipate that your written reply and most responsive documents will be unclassified.  Please send all unclassified material directly to the Committees.  In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all unclassified information directly to the Committees, and provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security.  Although the Committees comply with all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, they are not bound, absent their prior agreement, by any handling restrictions.

Thank you for your prompt attention.  Should you have any questions, please contact Brian Downey or Scott Wittmann of Chairman Johnson’s staff at 202-224-4751 and Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at 202-224-4515. 

 

Sincerely,

 

Ron Johnson                                                                                                                      Charles E. Grassley

Chairman                                                                                                                            Chairman

Committee on Homeland Security                                                                             Committee on Finance

and Governmental Affairs

 

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[1] John Solomon, How the Obama White House engaged Ukraine to give Russia collusion narrative an early boost, The Hill (Apr. 25, 2019), https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/440730-how-the-obama-white-house-engaged-ukraine-to-give-russia-collusion.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] White House Visitor Access Records 2016 Log, Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/briefing-room/disclosures/visitor-records.

[8] Kenneth P. Vogel & David Stern, Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire, Politico (Jan. 11, 2017), https://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/ukraine-sabotage-trump-backfire-233446.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] John Solomon, Ukrainian Embassy confirms DNC contractor solicited Trump dirt in 2016, The Hill (May 2, 2019), https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/441892-ukrainian-embassy-confirms-dnc-contractor-solicited-trump-dirt-in-2016.

[13] Sara Carter, Whistleblower and DNC Contractor Visited Obama WH. It Must Be Investigated, Saraacarter.com (Nov. 8, 2019), https://saraacarter.com/whistleblower-and-dnc-contractor-visited-obama-wh-it-must-be-investigated/; White House Visitor Access Records 2008-2016 Logs, Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/briefing-room/disclosures/visitor-records.

[14] White House Visitor Access Records 2016 Log, Obamawhitehouse.archives.gov, https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/briefing-room/disclosures/visitor-records.

[15] “Records” include any written, recorded, or graphic material of any kind, including letters, memoranda, reports, notes, electronic data (emails, email attachments, and any other electronically-created or stored information), calendar entries, inter-office communications, meeting minutes, phone/voice mail or recordings/records of verbal communications, and drafts (whether or not they resulted in final documents).