Rudy Giuliani has resumed pushing Ukraine to investigate President Trump’s domestic political rivals, with a new round of talks he’s admitted were coordinated through the State Department.
Rudy Giuliani confirmed to The New York Times and CNN Wednesday that he’d spoken multiple times in recent weeks, including in an in-person Madrid meeting, to an aide to the Ukrainian president about investigations that would help Trump and hurt Democrats in 2020.
Giuliani insisted to CNN that everything was aboveboard and that he “wouldn’t do an unethical thing in my life.” The aide, Andriy Yermak, told the Times that Giuliani was “very interested” in the new administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “openly investigating all these cases.”
But the pair’s conversations, Giuliani told CNN, focused on a smeary allegation from the Trump camp against Joe Biden that Giuliani has said in the past “will be very, very helpful to my client.”
In short: Joe Biden, in 2016, agitated along with other western leaders and anti-corruption advocates in Ukraine for the removal of Ukraine’s then-prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, over concerns he wasn’t sufficiently prosecuting corruption in the country.
A couple years earlier, as an anti-corruption groundswell began in Ukraine, Hunter Biden joined the board of the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma, that itself was accused of corruption. As TPM’s Josh Kovensky reported, there’s no evidence Burisma was under investigation at the time, and British prosecutors subsequently ended their own probe of the company after their Ukrainian counterparts failed to send the evidence necessary to keep the probe open.
Nonetheless, the Trump team has pounced: Giuliani acknowledged in May that he was pushing for the probe “because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.” Trump subsequently said it would be “appropriate” for him to talk to Attorney General Bill Barr about investigating Joe or Hunter Biden.
The pair also discussed whether Ukrainian officials “took steps during the 2016 election to damage Mr. Trump’s campaign,” the Times reported.
That may be a reference to the claims of a Ukrainian diplomat-turned-consultant Andrii Telizhenko, a former staffer in Ukraine’s embassy in Washington, D.C. who alleged in 2017 that the embassy coordinated with a DNC contractor to find dirt on Trump and Paul Manafort during the 2016 campaign — allegations that have been denied by the contractor and embassy staffers. Giuliani met with Telizhenko earlier this summer.
Giuliani and Yermak both acknowledged in the reports that the back-channel talks were coordinated through the State Department. Giuliani told the Times that he spoke with Yermak as a private citizen, and that he subsequently briefed the State Department on the communications. But Yermak told the Times it wasn’t clear whether or not Giuliani was representing Trump.
On Twitter Thursday, Giuliani defended his work, calling the two matters reportedly in question the “real scandal.”
I appreciate NYT attacking me because I can point out their hypocrisy in covering up Biden’s prima facie bribe directed to former Ukraine Pres.Also failing to report the only proven foreign interference in 2016 election by Clinton campaign in Ukraine.NYT covering up real scandal.
— Rudy Giuliani (@RudyGiuliani) August 22, 2019