Posted by Curt on 26 September, 2019 at 3:40 pm. 2 comments already!


ABC News added a major correction to a would-be bombshell report Wednesday that said the Trump administration required Ukraine’s president to discuss Joe Biden as a precondition to meet with President Donald Trump.

The story would have been a huge development in the saga involving a whistleblower who filed a complaint regarding a July 25 phone call between Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader. The whistleblower asserted in the complaint that Trump pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden’s son’s Ukrainian business dealings.

If true, the ABC story would have called that denial into question, and given Democrats more ammunition for their push to impeach Trump.

But the story has several problems.

The source for the report was Serhiy Leshchenko, a former member of Ukraine’s parliament who ABC inaccurately identified as a current adviser to Zelensky.

ABC quoted Leshchenko as confirming Trump associates told Ukrainian officials Biden had to be a topic of discussion in order for Trump to meet Zelensky.

“Ukrainian officials were asking for a meeting with Trump for along [sic] time. As I remember, it was a clear fact that Trump wants to meet only if Biden case will be included,” Leshchenko told ABC.

“This issue was raised many times. I know that Ukrainian officials understood.”

After the ABC report caused a stir, Leshchenko told a reporter for Radio Free Europe he did not tell ABC there was a precondition for a Trump-Zelensky meeting. He told a BBC reporter he had learned of a possible precondition only through media reports.

But Patrick Reevell, the lead reporter on the ABC story, disputed Leshchenko’s denial.

“Leshchenko told me and a colleague that officials around Ukraine’s president Zelenskiy understood that talking about Biden was a condition for any meeting with Trump. We recorded him say it,” Reevell wrote on Twitter.

“It was my mistake that I still thought he was advising Zelenskiy. That should not have happened and I can only apologise for it. But he did say officials around Zelenskiy understood talking about Biden was a condition for any meeting with Trump,” he added.

Reevell did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his contacts with Leshchenko.

ABC’s initial story left out several key details about Leshchenko that would have raised questions about his thoughts on U.S.-Ukraine relations, and of Trump.

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