Ukraine's embassy wrote that a Democratic National Committee (DNC) insider reached out in 2016 seeking dirt on President Trump's campaign, according to a bombshell new report Thursday that further fueled Republican allegations that Democrats were the ones improperly colluding with foreign agents during the campaign.
Ambassador Valeriy Chaly said DNC contractor Alexandra Chalupa pushed for Ukraine's then-President Petro Poroshenko to mention Paul Manafort's ties to Ukraine publicly during a visit to the U.S., and sought detailed financial information on his dealings in the country, The Hill reported. At the time, Manafort was Trump's campaign chairman.
"The Embassy got to know Ms. Chalupa because of her engagement with Ukrainian and other diasporas in Washington D.C., and not in her DNC capacity. We’ve learned about her DNC involvement later," Chaly said in a statement released by the Ukrainian embassy. "We were surprised to see Alexandra’s interest in Mr. Paul Manafort’s case. It was her own cause. The Embassy representatives unambiguously refused to get involved in any way, as we were convinced that this is a strictly U.S. domestic matter."
Chaly continued: "All ideas floated by Alexandra were related to approaching a Member of Congress with a purpose to initiate hearings on Paul Manafort or letting an investigative journalist ask President Poroshenko a question about Mr. Manafort during his public talk in Washington, D.C."
The Ukrainian embassy confirmed the comments to Fox News but disputed the suggestion that Chalupa sought "dirt" on Trump, saying that she was merely concerned about the role on Manafort due to his previous work in the country -- and said she did not ask for any materials from the embassy. A spokesperson said that the embassy's encounter with Chalupa was "null" and produced no further action.
Neither the DNC nor Chalupa, who works as a Washington, D.C.-based political consultant, immediately responded to Fox News' requests for comment. In 2017, Chalupa told CNN: "During the 2016 US election, I was a part time consultant for the DNC running an ethnic engagement program. I was not an opposition researcher for the DNC, and the DNC never asked me to go to the Ukrainian Embassy to collect information."
However, Chalupa acknowledged that she met with "representatives of the Ukrainian Embassy," but said the topic of conversation was an "Immigrant Heritage Month women's networking event." She also told CNN that when Manafort was named Trump's campaign chairman, she flagged for the DNC that Manafort had worked with the Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian's president at the time.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) records confirm that Chalupa's firm provided various services to the DNC in 2016, and that the DNC paid Chalupa more than $412,000 from 2004 to 2016. Chalupa had other clients besides the DNC during that period.
President Trump told Fox News' "Hannity" in a wide-ranging interview last week that Attorney General Bill Barr was handling the "incredible" and "big" new revelations that Ukrainian actors apparently leaked damaging information about Manafort to help Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Last month, Ukraine Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko opened a probe into the so-called "black ledger" files that led to Manafort's abrupt departure from the Trump campaign. The investigation commenced after an unearthed audio recording showed that a senior Ukrainian anticorruption official apparently admitted to leaking Manafort's financial information in 2016 -- including his ties to pro-Russian actors in Ukraine -- to benefit Clinton.
Ukrainian law enforcement officials said earlier this month they had a slew of evidence of collusion and wrongdoing by Democrats and were trying to share the information with U.S. officials in the Justice Department.
A Ukrainian court recently ruled that the Manafort document leak amounted to illegal interference in the U.S. election by parliamentarian Serhiy Leshchenko and Ukraine's National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU).
Asked by Sean Hannity whether Americans needed to see the results of Ukraine's ongoing investigation into whether officials in that country worked with the Clinton team, Trump replied, "I think we do."
"I would imagine [Barr] would want to see this. ... I would certainly defer to the attorney general, and we'll see what he says about it," Trump said. "He calls 'em straight."
Trump continued: "It sounds like big stuff, very interesting with Ukraine. I just spoke with the new president a while ago, and congratulated him. ... But that sounds like big, big stuff, and I'm not surprised."
With those remarks, Trump echoed his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who said earlier: "Keep your eye on Ukraine."
A 2017 investigation by Politico found that Ukrainian officials not only publicly sought to undermine Trump by questioning his fitness for office, but also worked behind the scenes to secure a Clinton victory.
Among other initiatives, Politico found, the Ukrainian government worked with Chalupa to conduct opposition research against Trump, including going after Manafort for Russian ties, helping lead to his resignation.
Chalupa, on Facebook, called the story "nonsense" at the time.
Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.