Ukraine is planning to fire the prosecutor who directed investigations into the natural gas company that hired former vice president Joe Biden’s son to serve on its board of directors.
The move to dismiss the prosecutor, Kostiantyn Kulyk, first reported by Reuters, comes as Ukrainian officials are distancing themselves from the political firestorm ignited by President Trump’s alleged efforts to coerce the opening of an investigation into his chief political rival.
During a July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky to help his administration investigate allegations that Joe Biden used his position as vice president to help natural gas company Burisma Holdings avoid a corruption probe soon after Hunter Biden was appointed to its board of directors. The phone call led to an Intelligence Community whistleblower complaint that ultimately sparked a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions.
Biden has said that in the spring of 2016, during his tenure as vice president, he called on Ukraine to fire the top prosecutor investigating the energy company paying his son. Biden suggested he would withhold $1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine if the country did not fire the prosecutor, who was accused by the State Department and U.S. allies in Europe of being soft on corruption.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said he met with Kulyk to discuss the controversy surrounding the Bidens. Kulyk told Giuliani “that there was collusion and Biden had [the] prosecutor fired to kill case on [his] son and Burisma,” Giuliani told Reuters.
Kulyk also reportedly put together a seven-page dossier on Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine.
Kulyk is reportedly being fired effective December 31 for his failure to show up last month to an exam that all General Prosecutor’s Office employees are required to take in order to retain their positions amid mass layoffs. Over 400 prosecutors have already been dismissed. Some are said to be protesting the exam, which they see as a way for Ukraine’s president to tighten his political grip on them.
Zelensky has rejected that characterization of his motivations, saying the purge is necessary as the prosecution service is perceived as rife with corruption by Ukrainians.