Zelensky is unsure of Ukraine's role in 2016 election

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the country should investigate whether there was any meddling by the previous authorities in the 2016 US elections.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the country should investigate whether there was any meddling by the previous authorities in the 2016 US elections.PHOTO: REUTERS

KIEV (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump, after making clear he won't cooperate with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, goes back on offence on Thursday (Oct 10) with his first campaign rally since the probe began.

Trump will address supporters in Minneapolis as he grapples with polls that show rising support for impeachment - including one published on Wednesday from Fox News that showed 51 per cent of voters want Trump impeached and removed from office.

Ukraine should investigate whether there was any meddling by the previous authorities in the 2016 US elections, President Volodymyr Zelensky told journalists in Kyiv on Thursday.

"Ukrainians should investigate it themselves, probably there are grounds for that, but first of all it is our issue," he said. "It is very important for us so that in future we never interfere in elections of any country."

Zelensky said his administration is "ready to investigate", but so far he hasn't received any information about allegations from the Trump administration regarding election meddling or Burisma, the natural gas firm that had former US vice-president Joe Biden's son as a board member.

"When the US says, 'Yes, there was meddling,' I say, 'Please pass details and we will find. We will be happy to investigate.' The US did not give me anything", including on Burisma, he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Zelensky rejected any suggestions he was blackmailed by Trump during a now infamous phone call in July that's prompted an impeachment inquiry into the US president. But he added that "Ukraine is not against" a joint investigation with the US into the Bidens.

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday that neither the president nor his administration would participate in the impeachment inquiry, calling it "unauthorised" and "invalid".

Biden said for the first time on Wednesday that Trump should be impeached. He made the declaration in a speech in Rochester, New Hampshire, saying Congress would have no choice but to impeach if the Trump administration refused to cooperate with a probe into his behaviour.

 
 
 
 

Vice-President Mike Pence told reporters in Iowa, meanwhile, that he'd have "no objection" to releasing transcripts of his calls with Ukrainian officials.

House Republicans met Trump after being blindsided by the administration's decision to prevent Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, from testifying in the inquiry. The administration committed to work more closely with congressional Republicans on the inquiry.

Three House committees subpoenaed Gordon Sondland, US ambassador to the European Union, to testify on Oct 16 and to produce records from his personal devices two days earlier, after he was prevented from testifying earlier this week by the State Department.

Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled by Trump as US ambassador to Ukraine, isn't expected to appear voluntarily on Friday, as scheduled, for closed-door testimony before House committees leading the impeachment investigation, said a House official.