Federal prosecutors are investigating if Ukraine meddled in the 2020 presidential election in part by funneling misinformation through Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney at the time, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The Times, which was the first to report on the investigation, said prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn opened a criminal investigation into the matter during the last months of the Trump administration. At its center, investigators are trying to determine if current and former Ukrainian officials spread claims of corruption about then-candidate Joe Biden during the 2020 campaign in an attempt to bolster Trump’s reelection bid.
It’s unclear if any Ukrainians will be charged as part of the investigation.
Giuliani was one of Trump’s megaphones during his reelection campaign, and the former New York mayor regularly accused Biden and his son Hunter of corruption. The attacks became key elements of Trump’s campaign.
The investigation is separate from the one in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, which is focused on Giuliani’s work for the Trump administration and if he lobbied to remove Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in 2019 because officials in Kyiv wanted her fired. The FBI executed search warrants at Giuliani’s home and office in April, seizing his computers and cellphones in a dramatic escalation in their investigation.
Giuliani has not been accused of any wrongdoing in that investigation and has denied any impropriety. The Times added that he is also not the subject of the Brooklyn probe.
Ukraine is an ongoing flashpoint in the 2020 race and a cloud over Trump’s tenure in the White House. He was impeached for the first time over his efforts to pressure the country into investigating the Bidens in exchange for the release of U.S. military aid.
The Times reported Thursday that U.S. intelligence officials warned Trump that a Ukrainian official was working to channel disinformation through Giuliani at the time of the impeachment, although the publication added Giuliani said he was not told of the effort personally.