ANALYSIS | President Donald Trump on Friday insisted it "doesn't matter" if he asks foreign leaders to target his domestic political foes, again describing the powers of his office as unlimited. The Washington Post first reported that Ukraine was the subject of the complaint Thursday night.
Now we're learning that the complaint likely involves Ukraine. Because the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, according to the Post, determined the whistleblower complaint was of "urgent concern", congressional oversight committees were supposed to be informed.
That soon sparked a standoff between lawmakers and Washington's intelligence community, as Joseph Maguire, acting director of national intelligence, has since rebuffed requests to share details of the alleged incident with Congress.
Mr. Leshchenko and two other Ukrainians, all of them young, Western-leaning politicians and veterans of the 2014 revolution, said in interviews that Mr. Giuliani's efforts created the impression that the Trump administration's willingness to back Mr. Zelensky was linked to his government's readiness to pursue the investigations sought by Mr. Trump's allies.
Vice President Mike Pence met with Zelensky twice in September.
News reports have suggested the president pressured Ukrainian President Zelensky in a phone call to aggressively prosecute former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, on corruption charges and used military aid as leverage.
Reports say Mr Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son - who was on a Ukrainian gas company board - in return for more United States military support.
The Trump administration began reviewing a $250 million Ukrainian aid package just weeks after the August meeting and chose to release the aid earlier this month, prompting speculation that Trump offered the aid to incentivize the opening of an investigation into Biden in order to bolster his own electoral prospects.
"No, actually I didn't".
"You never asked anything about [the former vice president's son] Hunter Biden?". Cuomo asked. "You never asked anything about Joe Biden and his role with the prosecutor?"
The Ukrainian government's own readout of the call said Trump 'is convinced that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve image of Ukraine, complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the U.S.'.
"So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden", Cuomo said.
Trump said it was a "totally appropriate conversation".
Trump and personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani have accused Biden, while he was still vice president, of bribing Zelensky's predecessor to drop a probe of that very company. After Hunter joined the board, his father, who was then serving as vice president, began advocating for the firing of a top Ukrainian prosecutor. Zlochevsky was subsequently investigated for corruption, and a new prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, took over the investigation in 2015, Politifact noted. However, Shokin was perceived by the US and its allies as not pursuing corruption cases aggressively enough, Politifact points out, and he was suspected of trying to protect pro-Russian interests.