Rudy Giuliani’s apartment raided amid Ukraine investigation
Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, is being investigated for dealings in Ukraine when he searched for damaging information on Joe Biden.
STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, repeatedly pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Democrat Joe Biden over a 40-minute phone call in 2019, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.
During the call with U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Giuliani can be heard urging an investigation of Biden, who unseated Trump in the 2020 election.
Giuliani said a public announcement would “clear the air really well” and allow for a possible meeting between Zelensky and Trump.
“And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the President (Trump) to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside,” Giuliani said on the recording. “I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship.”
Congressional testimony during Trump’s first impeachment detailed how he sought the investigation into the Democratic rival who eventually beat him in the 2020 election. Trump sought an investigation of Biden and his son, Hunter, by withholding military aid from an ally while Ukraine was under siege from Russia.
“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 said. “Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”
The heart of Trump’s first impeachment was his own summarized call with Zelensky in July 2019, when he urged the Ukrainian president “to do us a favor” by investigating Biden and his son, Hunter, whose appointment to the board of a Ukraine energy company, Burisma, had been the subject of a corruption allegation.
Trump has insisted his call was “perfect,” but House Democrats accused him of trying to wield the power of his office to investigate a political rival.
The House impeached Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But the Senate acquitted Trump.
The Giuliani recording reveals the extent of the pressure that he contributed as part of that campaign.
Giuliani is under criminal investigation for his role in the private diplomatic talks, where U.S. State Department officials were instructed to defer to him in dealings with Ukraine, according to congressional testimony. Two of his contacts, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, face unrelated campaign-related charges.
The FBI raided Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment in April and seized up to eight personal electronic devices.
Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, testified during the impeachment investigation that there was a “quid pro quo” that Ukraine would receive military aid in response for investigating Biden.
Trump said of Sondland: “I don’t know him very well.”
Sondland sued the Justice Department and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month for $1.8 million for his legal fees during the investigation.
Revelations about the Giuliani call come as Biden prepares to meet June 16 with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, said Monday that Biden invited Zelensky to the White House in July.
“I have come into this briefing room from the Oval Office where President Biden was on the phone with President Zelensky of Ukraine,” Sullivan said. “They had the opportunity to talk at some length about all of the issues in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. And President Biden was able to tell President Zelensky that he will stand up firmly for Ukraine sovereignty, territorial integrity and its aspirations as we go forward.”