The impeachment saga sprung from revelations that President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani tried to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an "investigation" into former Vice President Joe Biden's family.
But according to a new report from Talking Points Memo, the scheme may not have started with Zelensky. In fact, there is evidence Trump's team also tried the same tactics on the president before him — using an infamous right-wing journalist as a conduit for the announcement.
"Text messages obtained by TPM show that former Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko was scheduled to announce investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election to John Solomon of The Hill in March 2019," wrote TPM reporter Josh Kovensky. "Ultimately, Poroshenko backed out of the interview at the last minute."
"The planned appearance came in the wake of a late February meeting that the then-Ukrainian leader held with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, in which they offered what Parnas has described as a 'quid pro quo' on behalf of Rudy Giuliani and his client, President Trump: announce investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election, and receive in return a state visit to the U.S. that could bolster Poroshenko’s re-election chances," wrote Kovensky. "Poroshenko’s planned appearance suggests that he had, at least initially, agreed to the deal, before backing out. It also highlights that the campaign to turn Ukraine into a domestic political bludgeon for Trump began far earlier than Giuliani’s aborted May 2019 dirt-digging trip to Kyiv."
Speaking to TPM, Parnas said, "This was not just the July 25 call, it was a months-long scheme, or effort, or whatever you wanna call it put together by the President, Giuliani, and others."