/Analysis | Timeline: The alarming pattern of actions by Trump included in whistleblower allegations

Analysis | Timeline: The alarming pattern of actions by Trump included in whistleblower allegations



Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Trump during a meeting on Wednesday. (Ukraine Presidential Press Service/EPA-EFE) (Ukraine Presidential Press Service/Handout/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

September 26 at 11:11 AM

Six weeks after it was submitted, a complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower has been declassified and released publicly. The seven-page document details a series of actions, meetings and conversations over a months-long period in which President Trump and his lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani sought to encourage an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden by officials in Ukraine.

Part of the complaint centers on a July 25 call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a rough transcript of which was released Wednesday. The whistleblower complaint, filed more than a month earlier, accurately captures the content of that call, lending validity to the rest of the assertions in the complaint.

With that in mind, we’ve pulled out the significant dates mentioned in the whistleblower complaint to give a sense of how the effort by Trump and Giuliani to elicit an investigation in Ukraine unfolded. Events not included in the whistleblower complaint itself are in italics. All quotes are from the whistleblower complaint.

The timeline of events

May 13, 2014. Hunter Biden, the son of then-Vice President Joe Biden, joins the board of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. It is owned by oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, one of several subjects of the Ukrainian corruption probe.

Dec. 9, 2015. Joe Biden travels to Ukraine, giving a speech that touches on concerns about corruption in the country. At some point, he tells Ukrainian leaders to fire Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin or lose more than $1 billion in loan guarantees. Biden joins many Western leaders in urging Shokin’s ouster.

March 29, 2016. Shokin is ousted from his position by Ukraine’s parliament.

May 12, 2016. Yuriy Lutsenko becomes prosecutor general of Ukraine, replacing Shokin.

Jan. 23, 2018. At an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden describes the pressure he put on Ukraine’s government.

Late 2018. Giuliani speaks with Shokin.

Dec. 12, 2018. A court rules that publication of secret documents delineating under-the-table payments to eventual Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort by a Ukrainian political party was a form of interference in the 2016 U.S. election. The ruling concludes that two officials, including member of parliament Serhiy Leshchenko, broke the law in publicizing the documents.

Late January. Giuliani meets with Lutsenko in New York.

Mid-February. Giuliani again meets with Lutsenko, this time in Warsaw.

March. Still in office as prosecutor general, Lutsenko begins making allegations about the Bidens’ activities in Ukraine and the 2016 election as a March 31 election date approaches. The whistleblower notes that Lutsenko works for the incumbent, Petro Poroshenko, who is trailing Zelensky — who had promised to replace Lutsenko.

March 20. The Hill’s John Solomon interviews Lutsenko. Among other allegations, Lutsenko claims that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch had given him a list of people not to prosecute and that he was opening an investigation of Leshchenko.

March 31. The first round of Ukraine’s presidential election is held. Poroshenko and Zelensky head to a runoff.

April 1. After speaking with Lutsenko, Solomon reports that a probe into Joe Biden’s push to fire Lutsenko’s predecessor is underway. Lutsenko tells Solomon that he wants to present his evidence to Attorney General William P. Barr.

April 17. Lutsenko walks back his claims about a do-not-prosecute list.

April 18. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III releases his report detailing his team’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

April 21. Zelensky easily defeats Poroshenko in a runoff election. Trump and Zelensky have a “brief” call in which Trump congratulates Zelensky on winning the country’s presidential election.

April 23. Giuliani tweets about an Ukrainian investigation into 2016.

April 25. In an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump addresses the suggestion that Ukraine interfered in 2016.

“I would imagine [Barr] would want to see this,” Trump says. “People have been saying this whole — the concept of Ukraine, they have been talking about it actually for a long time.”

April 29. Ambassador Yovanovitch is recalled to the United States.

“Around the same time,” the whistleblower writes, “I also learned from a U.S. official that ‘associates’ of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelensky team.”

May. Two associates of Giuliani travel to Ukraine and meet with Ukrainian officials, according to a report cited by the whistleblower.

Giuliani meets with a top Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutor, Nazar Kholodnytsky, in Paris, according to Kholodnytsky. Kholodnytsky, who had clashed with Yovanovitch, has declined to comment on what he and Giuliani discussed, but he said the Burisma investigation should be reopened.

May 6. Yovanovitch is removed from her position. The whistleblower says this was because of pressure originating with the Lutsenko allegations.

May 9. The New York Times reports that Giuliani plans to travel to Ukraine to push for investigations.

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Giuliani tells the Times. “There’s nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

May 10. Giuliani again tweets about a Ukrainian investigation.

Trump later tells Politico that he will speak to Giuliani about his planned trip to Ukraine. Giuliani then cancels the trip.

May 11. Lutsenko and Zelensky meet for two hours, with the former requesting to stay in his position.

May 13. Barr announces a probe into the origins of the investigation into Russian interference. The whistleblower cites a report claiming that the Giuliani investigators’ work will aid this probe.

May 14. Trump tells Vice President Pence not to attend Zelensky’s inauguration. Instead, Energy Secretary Rick Perry attends.

It was “made clear” to officials who spoke with the whistleblower that “the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelenskyy until he saw how Zelenskyy ‘chose to act’ in office.”

Giuliani tells a Ukrainian journalist that Yovanovitch was “removed … because she was part of the efforts against the president.”

Mid-May. The whistleblower starts hearing concerns about Giuliani’s circumvention of the government’s official processes as regards Ukraine.

The whistleblower is told that officials, including Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, had spoken with Giuliani to “contain the damage” he was doing and that the ambassadors had been working with Ukrainian officials to help them figure out how to resolve the conflict between government messaging and Giuliani’s.

In the same time frame, officials told the whistleblower that Ukrainian leaders believed “that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelenskyy would depend on whether Zelenskyy showed willingness to ‘play ball’ on the issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani.”

May 16. Lutsenko walks back his claim about a probe into the Bidens.

May 19. In an interview with Fox News, Trump explicitly references Biden’s efforts in Ukraine, falsely claiming that Biden pushed for Shokin to be fired because of Hunter Biden’s work.

May 20. Zelensky is inaugurated as president of Ukraine. Shortly after the inauguration, Giuliani meets with Ukrainian officials who are allies of Lutsenko and who made allegations included in Solomon’s reporting.

June 13. In an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump says he might accept electoral assistance from a foreign government, if offered.

The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission subsequently points out on Twitter that this would be illegal.

June 21.

July 12. Axios reports that Trump and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats are at odds, with Trump telling confidants that he wants to remove Coats from his position.

Mid-July. The whistleblower learns that the White House is withholding aid to Ukraine.

July 16. Former MP Leshchenko, accused of interference in 2016, states that the court ruling from December has been overturned on appeal.

July 18. The Office of Management and Budget tells administration offices to suspend aid to Ukraine per Trump’s orders earlier in the month.

July 20. In an interview with Fox News, Trump links Ukraine and the effort to hack the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election — a link that the whistleblower (and recent reporting) suggests doesn’t exist.

July 22. Shokin tells The Washington Post that he was removed over the Biden issue. Other officials have suggested this isn’t true.

July 23. OMB reiterates that aid to Ukraine is suspended, per Trump.

July 24. Mueller testifies before Congress.

July 25, morning. Trump and Zelensky speak by phone early in the morning. The whistleblower reports that in the call Trump “pressured” Zelensky to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, to “assist in purportedly uncovering that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine” — as in the July 20 Fox interview — and to meet or speak with Giuliani and Barr.

The whistleblower wasn’t on the call but was informed that about a half-dozen people were on the call. That group included T. Ulrich Brechbuhl from the State Department, an aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

July 25, evening. Ukraine publishes a summary of the Trump-Zelensky call. It notes that Trump “expressed his conviction that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve Ukraine’s image and complete the investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”

Emphasis added by the whistleblower.

Days following July 25. The whistleblower writes: “I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room. This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.”

The whistleblower claims to have been told by White House officials that they were directed by White House lawyers to move the transcript from the normal documentation archive and to “a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature” — a move one official called an “act of abuse.”

In an appendix, the whistleblower adds that officials said “this was ‘not the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.”

July 26. Volker and Sondland traveled to Kiev and met with Zelensky and other politicians. There, the whistleblower writes, they “reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to ‘navigate’ the demands that the President had made of” Zelensky.

OMB reiterates that aid to Ukraine is suspended, per Trump.

July 28. Trump announces that Coats will resign in August.

July 31. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin speak by phone.

Early August. Officials indicate to the whistleblower that Ukraine is aware that aid is being held, but the whistleblower doesn’t know when they learned that.

Aug. 2. Giuliani travels to Madrid, where he meets with a Zelensky adviser named Andriy Yermak. This meeting was a “direct follow-up” to the July 25 call, according to the whistleblower’s sources. Giuliani had also been reaching out to other Zelensky advisers.

Aug. 3. Zelensky announces that he will travel to the United States to meet with Trump in Washington in September.

Aug. 8. Giuliani tells Fox News that the Justice Department official in charge of investigating the origins of the Russia probe is “spending a lot of time in Europe” to investigate what happened in Ukraine

Trump announces Joseph Maguire will take Coats’s job as director of national intelligence in an acting capacity. In doing so, he bypasses Sue Gordon, who had been Coats’s No. 2 at the directorate of national intelligence and was a career intelligence official with bipartisan support. Gordon would later resign.

Aug. 9. Trump speaks to reporters outside the White House. He’s asked about inviting Zelensky to the White House and what advice he would offer on dealing with Putin.

“I think he’s going to make a deal with President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House,” Trump said. “And we look forward to seeing him. He’s already been invited to the White House, and he wants to come. And I think he will. He’s a very reasonable guy. He wants to see peace in Ukraine. And I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”

Aug. 12. The whistleblower complaint is filed.

Mid-August. Several Ukrainian officials are due to visit the United States. It’s not clear if they did so.

Aug. 15. Coats and Gordon officially leave their positions.

Sept. 1. Zelensky and Pence meet as world leaders are in Poland for a ceremony commemorating World War II. Trump had originally been slated to attend the ceremony but remained in the United States to monitor Hurricane Dorian.

Sept. 5. The Post editorial board writes that it had been “reliably told” that Trump was “attempting to force Mr. Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.”