Anyone who’s ever worked on a jigsaw puzzle knows that the process is tedious in the beginning. First, we place all the similar colored pieces in small groups, try various configurations and then we see how two groups might fit together and so on. At a certain point, the progress becomes faster until finally, a picture starts to emerge.
We’ve reached the point where old information that once seemed disconnected and meaningless now makes sense based on new developments.
Unless you’ve been on Mars for the last few days, you know that former Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold U.S. aid unless the Ukrainian government fired then-Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in March 2016. He was about to question Biden’s son, Hunter, about his involvement in Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company.
Back in March (of this year), investigative reporter John Solomon interviewed Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, who replaced Shokin.
Lutsenko told Solomon that in April 2016, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office was investigating a nonprofit called the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (AntAC). The concern was that $4.4 million the U.S. had sent to help fight corruption in Ukraine had been improperly diverted.
This so-called anti-corruption organization, AntAC, was co-founded by the Obama administration and George Soros.
Shortly before Lutsenko took office, then-U.S. Embassy Charge d’ Affaires George Kent sent a letter to the Prosecutor General’s office. He wrote, “The investigation into the Anti-Corruption Action Center (sic), based on the assistance they have received from us, is similarly misplaced.” Kent also indicated that “U.S. officials had no concerns about how the U.S. aid had been spent.”
Soon after taking office, Lutsenko was summoned to the U.S. Embassy to meet the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Lutsenko told Solomon that Yovanovitch handed him “a list of people whom we should not prosecute.” (The list included a founder of the AntAC group and two members of Parliament who vocally supported the group’s anti-corruption reform agenda.)
I guess that’s what happens when one tries to investigate an Obama administration/Soros group.
It was collaborating with the FBI agents investigating then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s business activities with pro-Russian figures in Ukraine.
The implied message to Ukraine’s prosecutors was clear: Don’t target AntAC in the middle of an America presidential election in which Soros was backing Hillary Clinton to succeed another Soros favorite, Barack Obama, Ukrainian officials said.
“We ran right into a buzzsaw and we got bloodied,” a senior Ukrainian official told me.
Lutsenko suggested the embassy applied pressure because it did not want Americans to see who was being funded with its tax dollars. “At the time, Ms. Ambassador thought our interviews of the Ukrainian citizens, of the Ukrainian civil servants who were frequent visitors in the U.S. Embassy, could cast a shadow on that anti-corruption policy,” he said.
State officials told me privately they wanted Ukraine prosecutors to back off AntAC because they feared the investigation was simply retribution for the group’s high-profile efforts to force anti-corruption reforms inside Ukraine, some of which took authorities and prestige from the Prosecutor General’s Office.
But it was an unusual intervention, the officials acknowledged. “We’re not normally in the business of telling a country’s police force who they can and can’t pursue, unless it involves an American citizen we think is wrongly accused,” one official said.
In the end, no action was taken against AntAC and it remains thriving today. Nonetheless, the anecdote is taking on new significance.
First, it conflicts with the State Department’s official statement last week after Lutsenko first mentioned the do-not-prosecute list. The embassy responded that the claim was a fabrication and a sign that corruption is alive and well inside Ukraine.
But Kent’s letter unequivocally shows the embassy did press Ukrainian prosecutors to back off what normally would be considered an internal law enforcement matter inside a sovereign country. And more than a half-dozen U.S. and Ukrainian sources confirmed to me the AntAC case wasn’t the only one in which American officials exerted pressure on Ukrainian investigators in 2016.
When I asked State to explain the letter and inclusion of the Soros-connected names during the meeting, it demurred. “As a general rule, we don’t read out private diplomatic meetings,” it responded. “Ambassador Yovanovitch represents the President of the United States in Ukraine, and America stands behind her and her statements.”
Second, the AntAC anecdote highlights a little-known fact that the pursuit of foreign corruption has resulted in an unusual alliance between the U.S. government and a political mega-donor.
If this account is correct, the Obama administration pressured a foreign government to drop an investigation into an organization they had co-founded along with activist George Soros. They were interested in preventing American taxpayers from learning how their tax dollars were being spent as well as concealing their collaboration with Soros. But, above all, they were each doing their part to insure that Hillary Clinton won the presidency.
Another piece of the puzzle involves Nellie Ohr who worked for Fusion GPS along with Christopher Steele. During her testimony last summer, she told lawmakers that a major source of the information she provided to the FBI was a Ukrainian official. I plan to hit that tomorrow.
Remember when Joe Biden told us the Obama administration was scandal-free?
Note: Solomon’s lengthy article goes into depth about the cozy relationships between the ambassador, embassy personnel, an FBI agent who was in charge of international fraud cases and one of the lead agents in the Manafort investigation in Ukraine and others. The entire piece can be viewed here.