Rudy Giuliani, US President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, pursued contracts with Ukrainian officials worth hundreds of thousands of dollars while simultaneously seeking political dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden for Trump’s benefit, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported Wednesday.
As he waged a public campaign accusing Biden of corruption in Ukraine, Giuliani earlier this year was privately negotiating business deals with Yuri Lutsenko ― Ukraine’s top prosecutor at the time ― and the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice, according to documents obtained by the Post and the Times.
Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, a Washington husband-and-wife legal team with ties to Trump, were also listed on some of the documents as people who would receive payment from the Ukrainian government.
One such document ― a draft of a legal agreement from mid-February ― called for Lutsenko to pay Giuliani Partners $200,000 to retain Giuliani, diGenova and Toensing. Per the agreement, Giuliani would help Lutsenko recover money he believed had been stolen from the Ukrainian government.
Giuliani on Wednesday defended the negotiations in a series of text messages.
“It was not a strict conflict but it could be too much for me to do,” Giuliani told HuffPost about his apparent decision not to finalise the contracts.
“Got paid ZERO,” he added.
As the Times noted, Giuliani met with Lutsenko in New York weeks earlier to discuss Biden, the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and Biden’s son Hunter, who was a member of Burisma’s board for several years until April.
Giuliani, Trump and his congressional supporters have accused Biden, when he was vice president, of demanding the firing of Ukraine’s then-top prosecutor Viktor Shokin for the purpose of impeding an investigation into Burisma.
There is no evidence to support this claim, as Lutsenko has said himself. What’s more, Shokin was not pursuing an investigation into Burisma and a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers also supported Shokin’s removal.
In March, another agreement reportedly showed that the Ukraine Ministry of Justice would retain diGenova and Toensing for representation, but that Lutsenko’s office would pay Giuliani Partners the $300,000 fee.
A later version of the proposal reportedly did not reference Giuliani.
None of the agreements were executed and there’s no indication that Giuliani was paid by Lutsenko or the Ukrainian government, the Post reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired Lutsenko in August, and Ukrainian authorities said in October that they had opened a criminal investigation into him over allegedly abusing his power in dealings with politicians.
Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, in which the U.S. president pushed his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden and the debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine ― not Russia ― hacked the Democratic National Committee’s servers in 2016, was the subject of a whistleblower complaint, which prompted the ongoing impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani bristled when asked how Biden’s son getting paid by a foreign company for access to his father differed from Giuliani getting paid by a foreign government seeking access to his client, Trump.
“I’m a lawyer for 50 years and would bring a civil case for them,” Giuliani texted HuffPost, before referencing Hunter Biden’s history of drug problems. “I was completely qualified on the merits, it had nothing to do with government and I didn’t do it, he did for 4 years, I was paid nothing and he was paid at least 5m 3m (sic) in laundered money.”
Giuliani referred to HuffPost as a “virulent Trump hating publication” that was “so completely removed from reality.”
Mark Corallo, a representative for diGenova and Toensing’s law firm, told the Times that their firm “always stated that we agreed to represent Ukrainian whistle-blowers.”
“No money was ever received and no legal work was ever performed,” Corallo said.