U.S. President Donald Trump said on Fox News that Attorney General William Barr was reviewing allegations that Ukrainian agents provided Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign with damaging information about Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.
After calling the network Thursday night for a lengthy impromptu interview, Trump told host Sean Hannity that the allegations of collusion between Ukraine and Clinton’s campaign were “big and incredible.”
The 45-minute interview was the latest attempt by the president and Fox News to promote the narrative that Ukrainian agents tried to sway the 2016 presidential election in Clinton’s favor.
Hannity explored the issue on his show with a reporter from The Hill, a Washington publication, who interviewed Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.
Lutsenko told Hill Television on March 17 that he would launch an investigation into alleged efforts by Ukrainians to meddle in the presidential election. Three days later, Trump, a regular viewer of Hannity’s show, tweeted, “As Russia Collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges.”
Lutsenko announced the probe after U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch criticized the country’s handling of corruption, citing a recent high court ruling to decriminalize illicit enrichment by public officials. Lutsenko said investigators would focus on so-called “black ledger” files that resulted in Manafort’s abrupt departure from Trump’s campaign.
Lutsenko’s probe was also prompted by a Ukrainian parliamentarian’s release of an audio recording that supposedly quotes a senior law enforcement official as saying his agency leaked Manafort’s financial records to help Clinton’s campaign.
Manafort, 70, was sentenced on March 13 to 7½ years in federal prison after being convicted in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort was convicted of conspiring to conceal tens of millions of dollars in payments for undisclosed lobbying for a Ukranian politician aligned with Russia. Manafort also conspired to influence witnesses and committed tax and bank fraud.