Nov 27, 2019

Giuliani pursued business in Ukraine while seeking to dig up dirt on Trump's rivals

Photo: Geny Shkullaku/AFP via Getty Images

The president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani pursued thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian officials in the same months he was attempting to unearth damaging information about Trump's political rivals in Ukraine, according to a pair of reports from the New York Times and Washington Post.

Why it matters: Giuliani has become a central figure in the impeachment inquiry and is now being investigated by federal prosecutors, who are examining whether he was working to advance the interests of Ukrainians as an unregistered foreign agent while also representing Trump.

Details: One document reviewed by the Times shows that Giuliani was negotiating to represent top Ukrainian prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko for at least $200,000 at the same time he was encouraging Lutsenko to open investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election.

  • Giuliani and Lutsenko also both worked to push unsubstantiated allegations about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted as a result.
  • The draft business agreement between Giuliani and Lutsenko would have contracted Giuliani to advise "on Ukrainian claims for the recovery of sums of money in various financial institutions outside Ukraine," per the Times.
  • Separately, Giuliani also signed a proposal in February that asked the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice to pay his firm $300,000 in exchange for help recovering money the country believed had been stolen and stashed overseas. The proposal was not signed by Ukraine's justice minister.

What he's saying: Giuliani, who has denied having any business interests in Ukraine, downplayed the discussions in an interview with the Times and said he never finalized any deal. In response to the Ministry of Justice draft agreement that he signed, Giuliani said he ultimately rejected it: “I thought that would be too complicated. I never received a penny."

The big picture: Prosecutors are currently examining a wide array of possible charges in a probe into Giuliani and his associates, including unregistered foreign lobbying, fraud and money laundering.

  • Prosecutors issued subpoenas seeking records and information related to Giuliani and two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who helped connect him with Ukrainian officials and were arrested on campaign finance charges last month.
  • Meanwhile, Trump has attempted to distance himself from his personal lawyer, saying in an interview that he did not direct Giuliani to go to Ukraine to dig up information on his political rivals.
  • "Rudy has other clients other than me," Trump told Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday. "He's done a lot of work in Ukraine over the years."
  • The denial comes despite evidence of Trump asking Ukraine's president to speak to Giuliani about investigations into the Bidens and the 2016 election during a July 25 phone call.

Of note: The Times stated that it "could not determine whether the documents it reviewed comprised the entirety of discussions between Mr. Giuliani and other lawyers about representing Ukrainian government officials."

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