The Ukrainian official who promised dirt to Rudy Giuliani said that he tied pressure for the firing of Marie Yovanovitch to the investigations sought by President Donald Trump.
Former Ukraine Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said in an interview with the Ukraine news website Ukrainska Pravda that during a January 2019 meeting in New York City, he and Giuliani discussed the prospect of a joint U.S.-Ukraine inquiry into Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that Trump’s personal attorney and his allies have sought to use as a political cudgel against Joe Biden.
During that discussion, Lutsenko told the publication, he and Giuliani “exchanged thoughts about the role of Marie Yovanovitch.”
“[Giuliani] said that in the U.S., a new attorney general would be picked soon, and that after that I would have to meet with him, in order to tell him all the details eye-to-eye, which I could only discuss in the framework of a meeting with the attorney general, and resolve the question of a joint investigation,” Lutsenko said.
The former prosecutor general said he told Giuliani that he had been frustrated by the lack of response from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to help he requested in conducting investigations into the flow of Burisma-related money into the United States. American diplomats and Ukrainian activists have accused Lutsenko of stonewalling the Burisma case, as well as other corruption investigations.
Lutsenko then added that Giuliani asked him, “why, do you think, does the U.S. Embassy not want to help you?”
It was then, according to the former general prosecutor, that the pair “exchanged thoughts” about Yovanovitch’s role. From Lutsenko’s perspective, the former ambassador “was occupying a destructive position.”
Yovanovitch was ousted in May 2019, after a sustained campaign for her removal waged by Lutsenko, Giuliani, and the now-indicted Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Her ouster is one episode in the story of the Ukraine pressure campaign that has led to an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, as the House weighs whether to call for his removal from office. Yovanovitch testified last week in a public hearing in the inquiry about the experience of her removal.
Lutsenko added in the Ukrainska Pravda interview that, as he has stated earlier, Giuliani had invited him to a meeting to discuss the Burisma investigation in 2017, but that he did not meet with the former NYC mayor at his Manhattan office until 2019.
Lutsenko described the January conversation as “clear enough,” and said that he had laid out his perspective to Giuliani: “from my documents, from my outreach, I did not receive a single response” from the U.S. embassy in Ukraine.
He told Ukrainska Pravda that he went into the meeting expecting a discussion of Burisma, and that former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko had given him a preview of what Giuliani might ask about.
Tymoshenko purportedly told Lutsenko that Giuliani had asked her about the “situation around the Burisma company.”
Lutsenko then recalled Tymoshenko saying “my person in Washington will help you” arrange a discussion with Giuliani about Burisma.
Lutsenko said he refused the request, but that he “remembered the interest of Mr. Giuliani.”