Inside the ‘War’ on Biden-Ukraine Reporting

House Republicans want to hear from Alexandra Chalupa.

If you are unfamiliar with Chalupa, let’s just say this: She is the Ukrainian version of Christopher Steele. A paid political operative for the Democratic National Committee, Chalupa leveraged her government contacts in Ukraine (she’s Ukrainian-American) to dig up Russian dirt on Team Trump in 2016 for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

She compiled a report—dare we call it a dossier?—and gave it to the FBI in 2016. Her material was circulated to journalists working the Trump beat: Michael Isikoff, the Yahoo News reporter who first published Steele’s Trump-Russia propaganda in September 2016 that later was cited as evidence in a spy warrant on Carter Page, used Chalupa as a source that year.

Isikoff named Chalupa as someone who shaped the 2016 election: “Chalupa—who was in charge of the Democratic National Committee’s ‘ethnic outreach’ efforts—began circulating memos and emails laying out [former Trump campaign manager Paul] Manafort’s connections,” Isikoff cooed in October 2016.

Chalupa, like Steele, peddled her findings on Capitol Hill, attempting to get an official imprimatur on her partisan gossip. Unlike the work of Trump campaign she was trying to slander, her work and Steele’s represented legitimate collusion between a U.S. presidential campaign and foreign agents to influence the 2016 election.

Nunes Wants Chalupa to Testify

Now that House Democrats want to impeach President Trump over his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wherein he asked for a “favor” in the form of Zelensky looking into that country’s meddling in the 2016 election, Chalupa’s work as a conduit between Ukrainian officials and Team Clinton is under deserved scrutiny.

In a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) over the weekend, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) listed Chalupa as a “prime fact witness” in Schiff’s impeachment tribunal.

“During the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Alexandra Chalupa . . . worked with the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, D.C. to try and get political dirt on then-candidate Trump’s campaign,” Nunes wrote on November 9. “She has admitted to providing anti-Trump dirt to the DNC and Clinton campaign.”

A footnote in Nunes’ letter refers to a 5,550-word investigation published in Politico on January 11, 2017, which outlined how Ukrainian officials tried to damage Trump’s campaign and help Hillary Clinton. “Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire,” by reporters Kenneth Vogel and David Stern, is a trove of explosive details that describe how pro-Clinton allies in Kiev, including the country’s then-president, hoped to thwart a Trump victory in November 2016.

“Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office,” Vogel and Stern wrote. “They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers. The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”

That Clinton ally is Chalupa, a former Clinton Administration staffer and longtime DNC consultant. She began researching the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, particularly Manafort, and shared that information with the DNC, Clinton campaign, and the Ukrainian embassy in the United States.

“Chalupa said the embassy also worked directly with reporters researching Trump, Manafort, and Russia to point them in the right directions,” Vogel and Stern reported. (It is important to note that the pretext for the phony Trump-Russia collusion probe relied heavily on the involvement of foreign diplomats including former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Australia’s ambassador to the UK, Alexander Downer. More in an upcoming story.)

One Ukrainian embassy official confirmed to Politico that “they were coordinating an investigation with the Hillary team on Paul Manafort with Alexandra Chalupa.” Documents obtained by Judicial Watch show that Chalupa visited the Obama White House more than two dozen times, including four visits in December 2015 when she began her anti-Trump research, and five times in 2016.

But here’s the most damning conclusion from Vogel’s expose: “Politico’s investigation found evidence of Ukrainian government involvement in the race that appears to strain diplomatic protocol dictating that governments refrain from engaging in one another’s elections.

Vogel’s piece has been cited by House Republicans interviewing federal officials who claim Trump’s call with Zelensky constituted foreign interference in the 2020 election. His article directly counters the Democrats’ narrative that Trump’s questions about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election is a “conspiracy theory.”

Nothing in Vogel’s January 2017 story has been debunked; indeed, new information, including congressional testimony from Nellie Ohr, bolsters his account. Vogel told me he stands by his story.

The “Nothing-to-See-Here” Caucus

Vogel now is at the New York Times, but his coverage of Biden’s ties to Burisma—“new details about Hunter Biden’s involvement . . . have pushed the issue back into the spotlight just as the senior Mr. Biden is beginning his 2020 presidential campaign,” he reported in May—in addition to his 2017 Politico article have landed Vogel on the Left’s naughty list. And among his newly minted detractors is his former employer.

“Biden Wages War on Hunter-Ukraine Reporting,” written by three Politico reporters in September, outlined Biden’s plan to combat any coverage of his son’s lucrative ties to Ukraine and his own involvement in the scam. “Biden’s team has adopted a new in-your-face approach, including repeatedly singling out journalists behind unfavorable coverage, tweeting out taunts that accuse reporters of carrying Trump’s water and rolling out a series of fact-checking memos,” the article said.

One of those reporters is Vogel, described in the article as a “top target.” He’s accurately reported on both Ukraine election interference and Hunter Biden’s Burisma dealings, promising to do more; but even his underlying anti-Trump spin isn’t enough to protect him from the Democrats’ cover-up of both subjects.

Vogel also had the temerity to warn on MSNBC that the Hunter Biden story was a “significant liability for Joe Biden,” a thoroughly rational comment considered verboten at the network.

Biden’s campaign produced a video aimed at Vogel, including a clip by contemptible NeverTrumper Jennifer Rubin basically calling Vogel a liar. Vogel has been smeared by New York magazine writer and collusion truther Jonathan Chait and BuzzFeed News, the first publisher of the Steele dossier, suggested Vogel’s Politico piece is “conservative fringe” fodder.

Other Russian collusion truthers—Lawfare’s Susan Hennessey, CNN’s Asha Rangappa, Vox’s Aaron Rupar—blasted Vogel as a Trump stooge while playing their usual “nothing to see here” routine about the real scandal.

But Politico’s Natasha Bertrand, such a shameless promoter of Russian collusion propaganda that she’s earned the nickname “Fusion Natasha,” also is attempting to discredit Vogel’s 2017 Politico article. (Among Betrand’s collusion greatest hits is her laughable reporting in October 2017 that much of the Steele dossier had been corroborated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.)

According to a transcript of her October congressional testimony, former National Security Council official Fiona Hill became agitated and defensive when presented with details from Vogel’s Politico article. Hill claimed House Republicans were using the piece to go down a “rabbit hole” and “peddle an alternative variation about whether the Ukrainians subverted our democracy.”

When pressed for specifics, Hill retorted that “it is a fiction that the Ukrainian government was launching an effort to upend our election.”

Hill’s comment, according to Bertrand, was conclusive evidence that Ukraine didn’t interfere in the election. Her November 8 story, “Ukraine Didn’t Interfere in 2016, Trump Officials Testified,” takes subtle aim at Vogel. “According to Giuliani, Ukrainian officials conspired with the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to help boost the Democratic nominee’s campaign and damage Trump’s candidacy. No evidence has emerged to support that idea,” she wrote.

But there is plenty of evidence, most notably Ken Vogel’s investigation, that has been backed up by numerous sources since January 2017—including Chalupa herself.

There are endless intersections between the Trump-Russia collusion hoax and Ukrainegate—same journalists, same fabricated evidence, same impeachment grist, and same plotters, including Adam Schiff. But the end game is the same: Obscure the actual foreign interference in an American election.

In the Trump-Russia collusion scheme, the purpose was to cover up for the weaponization of the federal government, including the use of foreign intelligence agencies and foreign operatives, to go after Team Trump in 2016. Now, the goal is to protect Joe Biden, the only candidate most Democrats think can beat Trump, both from any political fall-out for his son’s shady dealings in Ukraine as well as how the Democrats enlisted Ukrainian help to sabotage Trump’s presidential campaign.

As before, they will seek and destroy anyone who attempts to frustrate that mission, including reporters who otherwise are on their side. It’s also a clue that the journalists now calling for Vogel’s head will participate in Biden’s “war” on the press for reporting damaging news about his campaign—conduct Donald Trump could only dream of getting away with.

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