May 04, 2018

Menendez, Durbin, Leahy Raise Concerns over Allegations of Ukraine’s Hampered Cooperation with Special Counsel Mueller

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) today sent a letter to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko expressing concerns over allegations that he impeded cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in order to not draw the ire of President Trump.

The Senators letter follows a report by the New York Times that quotes Ukrainian government officials asserting that the relationship with the U.S. was too valuable and that it needed to ensure no actions jeopardized continued cooperation with the Trump Administration.

“As strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine, we believe that our cooperation should extend to such legal matters, regardless of politics,” wrote the Senators. “Blocking cooperation with the Mueller probe potentially cuts off a significant opportunity for Ukrainian law enforcement to conduct a more thorough inquiry into possible crimes committed during the Yanukovich era. This reported refusal to cooperate with the Mueller probe also sends a worrying signal—to the Ukrainian people as well as the international community—about your government’s commitment more broadly to support justice and the rule of law.”

The senators listed a series of questions to be answered around the alleged obstruction by Mr. Lutsenko’s office preventing special prosecutor Serhiy Horbatyuk from issuing subpoenas for evidence or interviewing witnesses in four open cases in Ukraine related to consulting work performed by Paul Manafort.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and below.

Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko

General Prosecutor

Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine

13/15 Riznytska St.

Kyiv, 01011

Ukraine

Dear Mr. Prosecutor General:

We are writing to express great concern about reports that your office has taken steps to impede cooperation with the investigation of United States Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  As strong advocates for a robust and close relationship with Ukraine, we believe that our cooperation should extend to such legal matters, regardless of politics.  Ours is a relationship built on a foundation of respect for the rule of law and accountable democratic institutions.  In four short years, Ukraine has made significant progress in building these institutions despite ongoing military, economic and political pressure from Moscow.  We have supported that capacity-building process and are disappointed that some in Kyiv appear to have cast aside these principles in order to avoid the ire of President Trump.  If these reports are true, we strongly encourage you to reverse course and halt any efforts to impede cooperation with this important investigation.

On May 2, the New York Times reported that your office effectively froze investigations into four open cases in Ukraine in April, thereby eliminating scope for cooperation with the Mueller probe into related issues. The article notes that your office considered these cases as too politically sensitive and potentially jeopardizing U.S. financial and military aid to Ukraine. The article indicates specifically that your office prohibited special prosecutor Serhiy Horbatyuk from issuing subpoenas for evidence or interviewing witnesses in four open cases in Ukraine related to consulting work performed by Paul Manafort for former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich and his political party.

This investigation not only has implications for the Mueller probe, but also speaks to critically important investigations into the corrupt practices of the Yanukovich administration, which stole millions of dollars from the people of Ukraine.  Blocking cooperation with the Mueller probe potentially cuts off a significant opportunity for Ukrainian law enforcement to conduct a more thorough inquiry into possible crimes committed during the Yanukovich era. This reported refusal to cooperate with the Mueller probe also sends a worrying signal—to the Ukrainian people as well as the international community—about your government’s commitment more broadly to support justice and the rule of law.

We respectfully request that you reply to this letter answering the following questions:

  1. Has your office taken any steps to restrict cooperation with the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller?  If so, why?
  2. Did any individual from the Trump Administration, or anyone acting on its behalf, encourage Ukrainian government or law enforcement officials not to cooperate with the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller?
  3. Was the Mueller probe raised in any way during discussions between your government and U.S. officials, including around the meeting of Presidents Trump and Poroshenko in New York in 2017?

Sincerely, 

###

Press Contact

Juan Pachon 202-224-4651