Feb 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ukrainian president says he's "ready for next call" with Trump

Trump and Zelensky on Sept. 25. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN on Saturday that he's "ready for [the] next call with Mr. Trump" if working with the U.S. and the president will help his country.

Why it matters: The July 25 call between Zelensky and Trump led House Democrats to launch a formal impeachment inquiry, after a whistleblower complaint from the intelligence community alleged that Trump "sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President's 2020 reelection bid."

Flashback: In December, Zelensky publicly pushed back on Trump for withholding military aid last summer while his country was at war with Russia.

  • Trump confirmed that he withheld almost $400 million in aid.
  • Democrats sought to charge the president with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress over accusations that he withheld that aid to solicit election interference from a foreign country.
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said earlier this month that he believed Trump withheld aid to Ukraine to "encourage" its government to investigate the former Vice President Joe Biden and his family. He voted to acquit Trump because he believed any consequences for the president's actions should be decided in the next election.

What to watch: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters in December that his country was still working to schedule a White House meeting for Zelensky.

Go deeper: Senate acquits Trump

Go deeper

Pro-Trump warrior takes the helm of U.S. intelligence

Richard Grenell in Berlin. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

By picking Ambassador Richard Grenell to be acting director of national intelligence, President Trump has slotted a pro-Trump warrior into the ultimate apolitical role.

What they're saying: James Clapper, the longest-serving DNI (2010-2017), tells Axios it's "very worrisome installing a partisan with no real intelligence experience in this position."

Intelligence lawyer who blocked Ukraine whistleblower complaint to resign

Adam Schiff. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jason Klitenic, the top lawyer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), is resigning from his position, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: Klitenic wrote a letter to the top lawmakers on the Senate and House Intelligence committees in September informing them that — after consulting with the Justice Department — acting DNI Joseph Maguire would not turn over the whistleblower complaint about President Trump's now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump misrepresents 2020 Russia briefing as Democratic "misinformation"

Photo: Mazza/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump said in a Friday tweet that a briefing by a top election-security official before the House Intelligence Committee last week on Russia's attempts to interfere in the 2020 election was a "misinformation campaign ... launched by Democrats in Congress."

Why it matters: Trump, who was reportedly infuriated by the event, has made moves in recent days to ensure that administration jobs are held by those loyal to him — notably at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which led the briefing despite Trump's assertion that it was headed by congressional Democrats.