Federal Politics

Published — December 19, 2018

Why did Donald Trump’s national security adviser want to meet with a Ukrainian billionaire?

National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington on Oct. 3, 2018. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Ukrainian steel magnate Victor Pinchuk’s foundation had previously paid John Bolton six figures for speaking engagements.

This article is co-published with Public Radio International

Introduction

An aide to National Security Adviser John Bolton sought to schedule a meeting for him with a Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk during Bolton’s official trip to Ukraine last August, according to new disclosure filings reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity.

The August meeting ultimately did not take place, and it’s unclear why Bolton’s aide sought it.

But Bolton and Pinchuk have financial ties dating to before Bolton joined the Trump administration: Pinchuk’s foundation had paid Bolton a combined $115,000 for his participation in two panel discussions — one during September 2017 and the other in February 2018, according to Bolton’s federal personal financial disclosure. Both panel discussions took place before President Donald Trump in April appointed Bolton as his national security adviser.

Pinchuk’s father-in-law, Leonid Kuchma, served as president of Ukraine from 1994 until 2005.

A steel magnate, Pinchuk has also drawn notice in the U.S. for his relationship with Trump. The New York Times reported in April that the Department of Justice’s Special Counsel’s Office, led by Robert Mueller, was investigating a $150,000 donation Pinchuk made in September 2015 to Trump’s foundation. Early in his presidential campaign, Trump deemed Pinchuk a “very, very special man, a special entrepreneur.”

The payment was in exchange for a 20-minute appearance Trump made via video to a conference in Kiev, according to the Times, which reported scrutiny of the payment was part of a broader examination of foreign money flowing to Trump and his associates. On Tuesday, in an unrelated development, the Donald J. Trump Foundation agreed to shut down amid allegations that Trump had used the organization for his personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement.

Pinchuk has also interacted with other prominent politicos, notably contributing millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation, led by former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president. He was included on a list of Ukrainians sanctioned by Russia earlier this year, amid deteriorating relations with Ukraine.

The White House press office referred the Center for Public Integrity’s inquiry to Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, who wouldn’t comment.

In the Nov. 29 disclosure filing, Doug Schoen, Pinchuk’s longtime U.S. lobbyist, said that Christine Samuelian, an aide to Bolton, emailed him on Aug. 17 “inquiring as to whether Mr. Victor Pinchuk would be in Ukraine during a planned visit” by Bolton, according to a disclosure report Schoen filed with the Department of Justice late last month.

Schoen subsequently exchanged several emails with Samuelian over the next week regarding scheduling a meeting between Pinchuk and Bolton, according to Schoen’s disclosure filing.

At one point, Samuelian emailed Schoen “concerning Mr. Victor Pinchuk’s plans with respect to attending a public event.”

On Aug. 24, while Bolton was in Ukraine, Samuelian emailed Schoen “noting communications constraints while Ambassador John Bolton was in Ukraine and that his schedule had precluded meeting with” Pinchuk.

Bolton traveled to Ukraine to show U.S. support for the country as it celebrated its Independence Day.

Schoen has represented Pinchuk since 2011, according to disclosure filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and is paid $40,000 per month for the work. Schoen, a veteran political consultant and former adviser to Bill Clinton, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sir Elton John, left, and Ukrainian tycoon and philanthropist Viktor Pinchuk speaking during a meeting on Sept. 12, 2015, in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

Natalia Vovk, a spokeswoman for the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, said in an email that the foundation brings together “global decision makers, experts and opinion makers to discuss Ukraine’s challenges and prospects” and the goal is to “put Ukraine on the international agenda, gather support for Ukraine’s transformation according to European values, and inspire the discussion in Ukraine.”

Bolton’s 2017 and 2018 panels also included former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and others, she said.

Vovk said the foundation strives to attract speakers who represent different points of view in their home countries and “who can be expected to relate the content for their conversations on Ukraine to policy making and expert circles in their respective home countries.”

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
Guest
SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.