The seed of another wacky conspiracy theory is sprouting in Ukraine.
And this time, it purports to implicate both President Barack Obama and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
According to a Tuesday report in the Washington Post, Trump asked Giuliani to brief Trump and GOP Senators about what he was told while in Kyiv last week.
The Ukrainians who met with Giuliani have announced, on their own, what they told the President’s lawyer. What emerges is a new conspiracy theory positing an elaborate scheme involving the Franklin Templeton investment fund, Obama, and Schiff.
It’s not entirely clear when Giuliani will do the briefing. He told the Post that he hoped “to have it done by the end of the week,” while Trumpworld fixture Jason Miller tweeted that it would be out “a little later than Wednesday.” But if he does, this theory could find its way into the halls of Congress.
While in Kyiv, Giuliani met with a member of Ukrainian parliament named Oleksandr Dubinsky. A former journalist who entered parliament this past summer, Dubinsky is known in Ukraine in part for his ties to a local oligarch with certain legal issues pending in the U.S.
But Dubinsky, a ferocious poster, uploaded a video last week in which he retells what he claims to have told Giuliani. Part of that has to do with a supposed “investigative commission” that Dubinsky wants to create in Ukraine to investigate his allegations, which focus on the deposed Russia-friendly government of Viktor Yanukovych and on President Volodymyr Zelensky’s predecessor, Petro Poroshenko.
Crucially, Dubinsky says in the video — titled “Meeting with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani” — that “the creation of an investigative commission would be focused on receiving information from the U.S. Justice Department and to attract it to an investigation of these financial frauds that, I repeat, occurred under Yanukovych and Poroshenko.”
In the video, Dubinsky echoed claims made by former Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, who initially fed dirt to Giuliani.
The allegation is based on $7 billion in bonds issued by the Ukrainian government and purchased by Franklin Templeton, the investment management company.
Dubinsky and Lutsenko allege that the bonds were actually part of an elaborate scheme to siphon money out of Ukraine and make millions.
Without providing any evidence to support the claim, Dubinsky said in the video that $7 billion that had been stolen from the Ukrainian budget via various corruption schemes was laundered into the U.S. by being used to purchase an equal amount in bonds issued by the Ukrainian government.
Franklin Templeton, Dubinsky said, agreed to take the dirty money and buy the bonds, which came at a 9.5 percent annual yield. The investment manager overseeing the alleged scheme was also one of the Obama campaign’s biggest donors, Dubinsky said.
FEC records do not corroborate the claim.
“A fucking awesome scheme!” Dubinsky exclaimed in the video, adding that he told Giuliani all of the details.
Separately, a spokeswoman for Lutsenko said that the former general prosecutor told Giuliani in an interview in Budapest that Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch prevented him from conducting an investigation into the $7 billion. Again, Lutsenko has not offered any evidence to support the claim.
Giuliani tweeted last week that Schiff is an “investor” in Franklin Templeton.
Working on an important project with @OANN, intended to bring before the American people information Schiff (recently disclosed investor in Franklin Templton) “Star chamber” proceedings have covered up. Stay tuned.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) December 3, 2019
But what’s the truth? Schiff’s financial disclosure forms shows that he holds investments in publicly available mutual funds that Franklin Templeton manages.
Franklin Templeton is a major, public investment management company. Schiff has holdings in five FT funds, according to his financial disclosure.
The value of Schiff’s holdings ranges from $165,000 to $350,000, according the disclosure forms. Franklin Templeton has more than $740 billion under management.
Schiff’s connection to the mutual fund company appears to be as passive and insignificant as that of a typical investor with money in Fidelity, Schwab, or Vanguard.
The right-wing outlets reported that Schiff received political contributions from Franklin Templeton. A TPM search of FEC records do not turn up any political contributions from Franklin Templeton to Schiff.