Three House panels have opened an investigation into whether Rudy Giuliani is trying to strong-arm the Ukrainian government into helping President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
A joint probe by the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Oversight committees is looking at allegations that the former mayor of New York City-turned Trump attorney is spearheading a campaign to “pressure the government of Ukraine to assist the President’s reelection campaign.”
Giuliani has very publicly brought what weight he has to bear on Kyiv, proclaiming in May that he intended to travel to the Ukrainian capital in a bid to spur the country to investigate Joe Biden and the business dealings of his son, Hunter.
In two letters to White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the chairmen of the three committees express alarm at the prospect of Giuliani acting “outside legitimate law enforcement and diplomatic channels” to “improperly pressure” the Ukrainian government into hitting out at Biden.
Giuliani’s efforts have also reportedly focused on undermining the credibility of the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, whose shady political consulting work landed him the crosshairs of special counsel Robert Mueller.
The committees note in the letters that, amid all this, Trump has recently begun to withhold $250 million in security assistance for Kyiv that Congress has appropriated.
“If the President is trying to pressure Ukraine into choosing between defending itself from Russian aggression without U.S. assistance or leveraging its judicial system to serve the ends of the Trump campaign, this would represent a staggering abuse of power, a boon to Moscow, and a betrayal of the public trust,” the letter reads.
The committees are demanding that the State Department produce records relating to any potential investigations of Hunter Biden and of the Ukraine-based corruption allegations that played a role in bringing down Manafort.
They also seek information about a July 25 phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Trump. According to the Ukrainian readout of the call, Trump said he was “convinced the new Ukrainian government [would] be able to quickly improve [the] image of Ukraine, [and] complete [the] investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited cooperation between Ukraine and the USA.”
In the following days, U.S. special envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker met with Zelensky, after which a top foreign policy adviser to the Ukrainian president met with Giuliani in Spain.
That sequences of events “raises serious concerns that the Department is complicit in a corrupt scheme that undercuts U.S. foreign policy and national security interests in favor of the President’s personal agenda,” the committees said.
Giuliani appears to have spent much of 2019 striving to gain dirt on Joe Biden by way of Ukraine. He reportedly began meeting with top Ukrainian prosecutors in February as part of a bid to ignite an investigation of the Democratic frontrunner’s son, and in May met with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has claimed inside knowledge of supposed Ukrainian collusion with the Clinton campaign.