Presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Tuesday refused to say why the company of an indicted associate paid him $500,000 last year, while that associate was helping him dig up dirt in Ukraine against Democrats ― other than to deny the two matters were connected.
Giuliani, as Reuters first reported, was paid for consulting work he did for Fraud Guarantee, a Florida-based company run by Lev Parnas. Parnas, who was born in Ukraine, and Igor Fruman, a native of Belarus, were indicted last week on charges that they fraudulently made straw campaign contributions and funneled foreign money to support Donald Trump and other Republican candidates.
Parnas, Fruman and Giuliani also worked together to undermine former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly removed earlier this year.
But Giuliani, who says he has been representing Trump for free since April 2018, said Tuesday that the $500,000 in work he did for Fraud Guarantee was unconnected to his work on behalf of the president, and that the money did not come from overseas.
“It’s totally domestic ― 100 percent domestic. ... That’s all I can give you right now,” Giuliani told HuffPost Tuesday. “It had nothing to with campaign finance. It has nothing to do with Ukraine.”
Giuliani said his Fraud Guarantee work involved consulting on two technologies he is familiar with, and called it “unrelated 100 percent to anything” he had been doing for Trump. He said he got the referral through a lawyer he knows. “We did an intense amount of work for them,” he said. “They’re proprietary technologies, and I can’t comment.”
Parnas and Fruman were arrested at Dulles Airport in Virginia last week as they waited to board a flight leaving the country. Hours earlier, they had lunched with Giuliani at Trump’s hotel in Washington, just five blocks from the White House.
The Wall Street Journal reported that federal investigators in the Southern District of New York ― the office Giuliani used to head in the 1980s ― have examined Giuliani’s bank records. Giuliani said he is aware of the report, but has no knowledge of an investigation. “I have no idea if I am or I am not. I haven’t gotten any calls,” he said. “If they are conducting any investigation and they are leaking it right at the beginning, I have to question the motives of their investigation.”
Giuliani has accused Biden’s son Hunter of using that family relationship to make money from foreign sources that hoped to affect U.S. policy and advance their own business interests.
Giuliani, though, denied there was any similarity between Hunter Biden’s situation and his, even though Parnas appears to have been interested in Giuliani largely as a way to get close to Trump.
“There’s no comparison,” Giuliani said, pointing to his years as New York City mayor and a prosecutor before that. “I have a 55-year-long career of being one of the best lawyers in America. ... I am not someone without talent.”
The federal grand jury indictment alleges that Parnas and Fruman began making political donations “with the purpose of enhancing their influence in political circles and gaining access to politicians.” In addition to cozying up to the president’s personal attorney, Parnas met with former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) just before Sessions sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking him to remove Yovanovitch as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Yovanovitch was abruptly recalled from her post this spring, and told House investigators ― referring to Giuliani ― that she was removed based on “unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives.”
Giuliani, 75, has become the focus of the impeachment inquiry into Trump by House Democrats, following the disclosure of his key role in pushing Ukraine to pursue two investigations ― one of the former vice president, and the other into a conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton while simultaneously making it appear that Russia had worked to help Trump.
Biden is the 2020 Democratic candidate whom Trump most fears, and since his 2016 electoral victory, Trump has disputed the conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia actively hurt Clinton’s campaign and boosted Trump’s.
Fiona Hill, a former top Russia expert at the National Security Council in the White House, told House investigators this week that Giuliani “ran a shadow foreign policy in Ukraine that circumvented U.S. officials and career diplomats in order to personally benefit President Trump,” The Washington Post reported.
Giuliani’s central role in U.S. policy toward Ukraine reportedly led former national security adviser John Bolton to declare that he had no part in the “drug deal being cooked up” by Giuliani and others, according to a deposition Hill provided to the House on Monday. Bolton called Giuliani a “hand grenade” who would “blow everybody up,” according to The New York Times.
“I don’t know what he meant,” Giuliani said. “I am disappointed in John. I’m not sure he realizes I received all this evidence as part of my representation of the president. It was all part of the evidence, and suppression of evidence, involving Ukrainian collusion and the origin of some of the false information against the president.”
During a recent appearance on ABC News, former homeland security adviser Tom Bossert also dismissed the Ukraine 2016 election conspiracy that has become increasingly popular on right-wing websites and AM talk radio. “It’s not only a conspiracy, it is completely debunked,” Bossert said, adding that if Trump “continues to focus on that white whale, it’s going to bring him down.”
On Tuesday, though, Giuliani continued pushing the theory, which involves the emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, the California cybersecurity company that investigated the theft and even George Soros, the Hungarian billionaire whose support of progressive causes has made him a boogeyman for far-right conspiracists.
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” Giuliani said of Bossert. “I don’t think Bossert knows about the extent of Ukrainian involvement in getting dirty information to the DNC and the Clinton campaign.”
Giuliani on Tuesday also sent a letter to the House committees pursuing the impeachment inquiry, refusing to comply with their subpoena for documents.
“This appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless and illegitimate ‘impeachment inquiry,’” said the letter, written by Jon Sale, Giuliani’s lawyer. “In addition, the subpoena is overbroad, unduly burdensome and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry.”