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U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe

Menendez calls for investigation into Trump’s withholding Ukraine aid

President allegedly sought to use foreign aid to pressure Ukraine into investigating political opponent

By Nikita Biryukov, September 24 2019 12:17 pm

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez called for an investigation into President Donald Trump’s administration allegedly withholding military aid to Ukraine to spur the country into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination to take on Trump next year.

“If the President withheld the funds to extract commitments by the Ukrainian government to take action against a political opponent of the president, it would constitute an unacceptable abuse of power and subversion of U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance funds under the purview of the State Department for the personal use of the President,” Menendez said in a letter to the State Department’s inspector general.

Menendez is ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relation’s Committee.

A Wall Street Journal Report released Sunday that said Trump repeatedly pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to work with former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, on a probe focusing on Biden’s son.

There is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Biden or his son, Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian gas company that was once investigated by the country’s former prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, who was formally dismissed by Ukraine’s parliament after a series of protests over his blocking a number of high-profile corruption cases.

During the Obama administration, Biden sought to oust Shokin. Ukrainian authorities investigating corruption in the country said they did not find the former vice president breached any laws or ethics norms in doing so.

“Now, as details continue to come out about what the President said on his July 25, 2019, call to President Zelensky, as the President’s own lawyer confirms that he was also pushing Ukraine to take action against one of the President’s political opponents, and as it is becoming clear that the President in fact pressured Ukrainian officials, we must immediately understand whether, and to what extent, the President and his team converted duly-appropriated United States foreign assistance funds for his personal and political benefit, and what role federal agencies may have played in it,” Menenedez said in letter to Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney.

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