Politics: Giuliani Associates Urged Ukraine's Prior President to Open Biden Probe - - PressFrom - US
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Politics Giuliani Associates Urged Ukraine's Prior President to Open Biden Probe

00:10  09 november  2019
00:10  09 november  2019 Source:   online.wsj.com

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Months before President Trump pressed Ukraine ’ s new president to investigate Joe Biden ’s son and alleged 2016 U.S. election interference, two associates of Rudy Giuliani urged Ukraine ’ s prior president to announce similar probes in exchange for a state visit to Washington.

Two associates of President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani reportedly urged Ukraine ’ s previous leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden ’s son in exchange for a state visit to Washington.

Months before President Trump pressed Ukraine’s newly installed president to investigate Joe Biden’s son and alleged 2016 U.S. election interference, two associates of Rudy Giuliani urged Ukraine’s prior president to announce similar probes in exchange for a state visit to Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.

a group of people standing in front of a building© shannon stapleton/Reuters

A late February meeting in Kyiv between Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took place at the offices of Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, the people said. It came soon after Messrs. Parnas and Fruman met with Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Mr. Lutsenko in New York in late January and again in Warsaw in mid-February, Mr. Giuliani has said.

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Months before President Trump pressed Ukraine ’ s newly installed president to investigate Joe Biden ’s son and alleged 2016 U.S. election interference, two associates of Rudy Giuliani urged Ukraine ’ s prior president to announce similar probes in exchange for a state visit to Washington

President Donald Trump pressed Ukraine ' s president to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden 's son during a call earlier this summer, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

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Mr. Lutsenko also attended the February meeting, the people said. Mr. Poroshenko didn’t ultimately announce that he was opening those investigations. Mr. Lutsenko, the prosecutor, in March said he was investigating the Bidens and election interference, but in May said he had no evidence of wrongdoing. No White House meeting resulted from the discussions.

The meeting, which hasn’t previously been reported, shows associates of the U.S. president’s personal lawyer as early as February were pressing the president of Ukraine to open investigations that could benefit Mr. Trump politically in exchange for a White House visit. Mr. Poroshenko lost his re-election bid to Volodymyr Zelensky, who Mr. Trump in a July call urged to investigate Mr. Biden and his son, Hunter, as well as other matters.

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President Donald Trump repeatedly encouraged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to work with his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and U. S . Attorney General William Barr to investigate Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter

Ukraine ' s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, and President Donald Trump, right. While President Trump invoked Biden ’s name, it was Zelenskiy who For me as a President , it is very important and we are open for any future cooperation.” The president ’s July phone call with Zelenskiy set into

Mr. Poroshenko at the time was in a tight re-election race and had expressed interest to aides in visiting Washington. A visit to the White House could have improved his electoral chances with Ukrainian voters because it could have enhanced his stature, and he was open to the idea proposed by Mr. Giuliani’s associates, one of the people said. “He wanted to come to Washington and meet with Trump and then after the state dinner he would have an interview” with a major news outlet, the person said of Mr. Poroshenko. “Then he would say he would investigate meddling in 2016 and the Bidens.”

Robert Costello, a lawyer for Mr. Giuliani, said his client had no knowledge of the meeting. Representatives of Mr. Poroshenko and Mr. Lutsenko didn’t respond to requests for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Parnas declined to comment. A lawyer for Mr. Fruman didn’t respond to a request for comment. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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Giuliani tells CNN he intends to travel soon to Ukraine to meet with President -elect Volodymyr Zelensky in an effort to push the country to A week ago, Giuliani told CNN that he was done looking into the Ukraine matters regarding Biden , but in an interview with The New York Times on Thursday

Messrs. Parnas and Fruman were clients of Mr. Giuliani who helped him in his monthslong push for investigations in Ukraine. John Dowd, a former attorney for Messrs. Parnas and Fruman, said in a letter to Congress last month that both men “assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump.”

Mr. Giuliani has said his efforts in Ukraine were on the president’s behalf, “done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges.”

Messrs. Parnas and Fruman were arrested last month on campaign finance charges. Both pleaded not guilty last month.

At the time of the July call with Mr. Zelensky, Mr. Trump had ordered nearly $400 million in aid to Ukraine put on hold. A whistleblower complaint following that phone call triggered the impeachment investigation by House Democrats, who allege Mr. Trump abused his office by asking a foreign country for investigations that could have benefited his political fortunes. Mr. Trump has termed the call “perfect” and the impeachment investigation a hoax. The aid to Ukraine was released in September under pressure from Congress. Public hearings in the impeachment probe begin next week.

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Ukraine ' s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy holds a The impeachment inquiry focuses on whether Trump and his agents put pressure on Ukraine ' s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into Joe Biden , the US diplomat testifies Trump tied Ukraine aid to demand for probe .

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was set to publicly announce the investigations President Donald Trump requested Ukraine launch into the Bidens days before the whistleblower complaint. The New York Times reported that Zelensky was set to announce the investigations into Burisma Holdings

Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, served on the board of Burisma Group, a private Ukrainian gas company, while the former vice president was spearheading an international anticorruption effort in the country, an arrangement Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have described as corrupt. Both Bidens have denied any impropriety; Hunter Biden has called serving on the board given his father’s role showed “poor judgment.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani and their allies also have pushed a theory, without evidence, that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 election by hacking Democratic National Committee servers—a theory at odds with analysis by the U.S. intelligence community and by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

At least four current and former administration officials have testified in closed-door hearings that they believed President Trump was using a White House meeting with Mr. Zelensky, the new Ukrainian president, and the aid to Ukraine as leverage to press Ukraine to open investigations into the Bidens and alleged 2016 election interference.

In February, Mr. Poroshenko was anxious to engage with Mr. Trump as he tried to boost his poll numbers before the presidential elections in Ukraine in the following weeks, another person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Poroshenko was angling for a high-profile visit to Washington in April, the person said, which would have been after the first round of voting in late March, but before the runoff vote on April 21.

“He needed a Hail Mary and a state visit in Washington and was ready to become Trump’s best friend in order to secure support,” the person said.

Mr. Poroshenko’s approval rating sagged, and the arrangement discussed in the February meeting didn’t come to fruition, the person said. Mr. Poroshenko finished a distant second place in initial voting in the March election. He told the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington to prepare for a possible U.S. visit before the April 21 runoff, but an invitation never came from the White House, the person said.

Mr. Poroshenko never announced investigations. Mr. Lutsenko, the prosecutor general, however, gave an interview to the Hill, a Washington-based news outlet, in March in which he said he was opening a criminal investigation into alleged 2016 election interference and that he had evidence related to Hunter Biden and Burisma that he wanted to present to the U.S. Justice Department. Two months later, in an interview with Bloomberg, Mr. Lutsenko said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by the Bidens.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at [email protected], Alan Cullison at [email protected] and Brett Forrest at [email protected]

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