Timeline: How Trump's Ukraine phone call blew up

US President Donald Trump (left) is facing new scrutiny over reports of a phone call on July 25 where he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) to investigate former US vice-president Joe Biden's son over allegations of corruption.
US President Donald Trump (left) is facing new scrutiny over reports of a phone call on July 25 where he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) to investigate former US vice-president Joe Biden's son over allegations of corruption.PHOTOS: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS, AP) - Some Democrats are calling for the impeachment of United States President Donald Trump over reports that he asked his Ukrainian counterpart to launch an investigation that could damage his Democratic political rival Joe Biden.

The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times reported last Friday (Sept 20) that during a July phone call, Mr Trump repeatedly asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the involvement of Mr Biden's son, Hunter, with a Ukrainian energy company.

The phone call between the two world leaders was reportedly part of a whistle-blower complaint against Mr Trump from within the US intelligence community.

The following timeline details key moments in the Biden family's involvement in Ukrainian affairs and Mr Trump's effort to use those actions as political ammunition.

2014

April 21, 2014: Mr Biden, then vice-president, visits Ukraine's capital, Kiev, in a show of support for the country's government amid rising tensions with Russia.

May 13, 2014: Burisma Group, a private company that has drilled for natural gas in Ukraine since 2002, announces that Mr Hunter Biden would be joining its board. Around this time, Burisma's founder, a former government official named Mykola Zlochevsky, is under investigation for alleged money laundering by Britain's Serious Fraud Office.

2015

Dec 8, 2015: Mr Joe Biden visits Kiev again and speaks out against bureaucratic corruption that he says was eating Ukraine "like a cancer".

He threatens to withhold loan guarantees unless Ukraine's top prosecutor, Mr Viktor Shokin, who had been widely accused of corruption, is removed.

Mr Shokin had investigated Burisma but the probe was dormant at the time Mr Biden pushed for the prosecutor's termination, Bloomberg reported earlier in 2019, citing a former Ukrainian official.

2016

March 29, 2016: The Ukrainian Parliament votes to remove Mr Shokin.

2018

Jan 23, 2018: Mr Biden, at a Council on Foreign Relations event, details how he had threatened to withhold funds from Ukraine if Mr Shokin was not removed.

2019

April 2019: Mr Hunter Biden's term as a Burisma board member expires and he steps down from the company.

May 16, 2019: Bloomberg quotes Ukraine's current top prosecutor as saying he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden or his father.

May 11, 2019: Mr Trump's lawyer, Mr Rudy Giuliani, says he is cancelling a planned trip to Ukraine. Mr Giuliani came under criticism from Democratic lawmakers after saying in media interviews that he had planned to meet Ukraine's new leaders and push for investigations that could help Mr Trump.

July 25, 2019: Mr Trump speaks with Mr Zelensky and reportedly pressures him to investigate Mr Hunter Biden.

Aug 12, 2019: A whistle blower from within the intelligence community lodges a complaint with an internal watchdog that reportedly focused on Mr Trump's contacts with Ukraine.

Aug 28, 2019: Politico reports that Mr Trump has put a hold on US$400 million (S$550 million) in military aid to Ukraine.

Sept 9, 2019: Inspector General Michael Atkinson reveals the existence of the whistle blower's complaint to lawmakers and the refusal of the acting director of national intelligence, Mr Joseph Maguire, to transmit it to the intelligence committees as directed by the law.

Mr Atkinson notes that Mr Maguire disagreed with his conclusions and appeared to be treating the complaint differently than in similar past cases.

 
 
 
 

Separately, three House committees announce a joint investigation into Mr Giuliani's activities in Ukraine, writing to the administration seeking information and documents about Mr Trump's and Mr Giuliani's efforts "to coerce the Ukrainian government into pursuing two politically motivated investigations under the guise of anti-corruption activity".

Sept 11-12, 2019: In advance of a Senate Appropriations Committee vote designed to force the release of the US$400 million military aid package, the administration relents and frees up the military aid.

Sept 13, 2019: The House intelligence committee chairman, Mr Adam Schiff, demands in letters that the whistle-blower complaint be turned over to him in keeping with the law and past practice.

Mr Maguire refuses, and Mr Schiff issues a subpoena for the complaint on Sept 13. Mr Maguire again refuses, claiming Mr Schiff does not have a right to the document under a technical reading of the stature because the complaint concerns the "conduct by someone outside the intelligence community".

Mr Maguire also says he is too busy to immediately testify before Mr Schiff's committee. A hearing is slated for Sept 26.

Sept 19, 2019: The Washington Post and The New York Times report that the whistle blower's complaint involves Mr Trump's call with the Ukrainian president. Mr Giuliani makes an appearance on CNN and acknowledges he pressed Ukraine to investigate Mr Biden.

Sept 20, 2019: Mr Trump is asked if he brought up Mr Biden in the call with Mr Zelensky. He replies, "It doesn't matter what I discussed." He also uses the moment to urge the media "to look into" Mr Biden's background with Ukraine.

Sept 24, 2019: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the opening of a formal impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump's conduct. The president fired back quickly on Twitter, calling the inquiry "Witch Hunt garbage".

Earlier, Mr Trump said he withheld most of the aid pledged to Ukraine because he had wanted Europe to do more for the Ukraine. He also said he'd release the transcript of the July phone call with Mr Zelensky.