New audio reportedly shows how former President Donald Trump’s onetime lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressured the Ukrainian government in 2019 to announce it would investigate groundless claims about then Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
CNN reported on Monday that it had obtained audio from a nearly two-year-old phone call between Giuliani, U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in July 2019.
According to CNN, Giuliani suggested that diplomatic relations between the two countries would improve if Zelensky publicly announced inquiries into claims of possible corruption by Biden in Ukraine and a Trump-backed conspiracy about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to benefit Hillary Clinton, who was a Democratic presidential candidate at the time. Giuliani can be heard repeatedly pressing for investigations, CNN said.
“All we need from the President [Zelensky] is to say, I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani reportedly said, according to the CNN audio. He urged that “someone in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”
The new audio evidence has emerged after key details from the call were first reported by Time in February. BuzzFeed News later published a transcript of the pivotal call which paved the way for Trump’s infamous phone conversation days later with the Ukrainian president.
Both calls figured into Trump’s first impeachment trial over accusations that Trump had solicited help from Ukraine to boost his presidential campaign.
Giuliani’s efforts to undermine now President Joe Biden’s candidacy ahead of the 2020 presidential election have been well-documented. He spent months meeting with Ukrainians and searching for dirt that could damage Biden and support Trump’s reelection bid.
In April, the FBI executed a search warrant on Giuliani’s home and office and seized electronic devices for examination amid an ongoing criminal investigation into Giuliani and his Ukraine business dealings. It’s unclear whether the call with Yermak is part of that investigation. Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing.