Nov 18, 2019

AP: Zelensky feared Trump was pressuring him to investigate Biden

Photo: Sergei Chuzavkov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky held a meeting in early May with his top aides to seek advice on how to navigate pressure from the Trump administration to investigate Joe Biden, two people with knowledge of the briefings told AP.

Why it matters: The sources said Zelensky was concerned that the White House wanted him to take action that could influence the 2020 presidential race — well before the July 25 call with President Trump that's at the heart of the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

Details: Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, including then-Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, were briefed on the meeting, meaning that U.S. officials knew early on that Zelensky felt pressured to investigate Biden.

  • The sources said that notes on the meeting that circulated at the State Department indicate that Zelensky tried to hide the purpose of the May 7 meeting by claiming it was about energy policy.

The big picture: Zelensky later denied that he felt pressured while talking to reporters at the UN General Assembly meeting in September.

  • House Republicans have defended Trump in impeachment hearings with Zelensky's public statements that he felt no pressure to open investigations.
  • Democrats have argued that Ukrainian officials can't admit they felt pressured because they still rely on aid from the Trump administration.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.

1.9 million Americans filed for unemployment last week

Data: U.S. Employment and Training Administration via FRED; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Another 1.9 million people filed for unemployment last week, the Department of Labor said on Thursday.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic is still putting a historic strain on the labor market, though the pace of unemployment applications continues to slow.

The risk asset rally continues as stock market rebounds

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Risk assets have jumped over the past week and continued their rally on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 gaining for a fourth straight day and posting its highest close since March 4, while the Nasdaq ended the day just 1.4% below its all-time high.

What it means: If it hadn't been evident before, Wednesday's market action made clear that the bulls are back in charge.