The effort to get Ukraine to announce investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter Biden was reportedly happening as early as February. Rudy Giuliani’s indicted Ukrainian-Floridian clients Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were working behind the scenes to convince Ukraine’s previous president to announce such probes, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the current Ukrainian president who Trump asked to investigate the Bidens in a July 25 phone call, was sworn in back in May 2019. It was already known that Parnas and Fruman were instrumental in Giuliani’s efforts to convince the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens, but those efforts reportedly also happened in the latter days of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s administration — when Poroshenko was in need of an electability boost.
Per WSJ, Parnas and Fruman “urged” Poroshenko to make the announcement “in exchange for a state visit to Washington” at a crucial time for the incumbent:
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 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.
Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutensko, was also present at the February meeting. Lutensko previously said that “From the perspective of Ukrainian legislation” Hunter Biden “did not violate anything.”
The meeting did not result in a White House visit for Poroshenko and Poroshenko never announced such investigations. It was suggested the requests of Poroshenko were made with the knowledge that his reelection efforts needed a boost that a White House could provide. Again, WSJ:
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.
One of Giuliani’s new lawyers, Robert Costello, said Giuliani didn’t know about the meeting in question.
Parnas, the co-founder of the Fraud Guarantee (a company the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said he was paid $500,000 to advise), was arrested on Oct. 9, along with Fruman. Giuliani has said that Fraud Guarantee retained the services of management and security firm, Giuliani Partners LLC, in August 2018 to consult on business technology and provide legal advice on regulatory issues. The Parnas and Fruman arrests occurred at Dulles Airport in Virginia, from where they were attempting to leave the U.S. via a one-way ticket. Fraud Guarantee co-founder David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin were also ensnared in the criminal probe.
Parnas and Fruman were each hit with two counts of conspiracy, one count of making false statements, and one count of falsification of records, in connection with alleged campaign finance violations. Correia and Kukushkin were charged with one count of conspiracy. All defendants have pleaded not guilty.
The U.S. Attorney’s office prosecuting them is the Southern District of New York, the office Giuliani used to run. Giuliani himself is a subject of the investigation.
President Trump, despite signing off on former Russia probe attorney John Dowd representing Parnas and Fruman in the days before their arrests, promptly distanced himself from the businessmen after they were slapped with federal charges.
“I don’t know those gentlemen. Now, it’s possible I have a picture with them, because I have a picture with everybody,” Trump said on Oct. 10. “I don’t know them, I don’t know about them, I don’t know what they do… I don’t know, maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy. I just don’t know.”
[Images via Alexandria Sheriff’s Office]
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