A former Ukrainian prosecutor general reportedly told President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani that he saw no evidence of wrongdoing by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son as Trump alleged, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraine’s former top law enforcement who was fired last month, told the LA Times in an interview published Sunday that he told Giuliani that authorities with the United States should launch their own investigation if they have evidence of potential misconduct by the Bidens, but to not use Ukraine to seek political vengeance that could affect the 2020 U.S. election.
“I told him I could not start an investigation just for the interests of an American official,” Lutsenko, a politician aligned with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, told the LA Times.
Trump made the unsubstantiated allegation that Biden, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in 2020, used his official capacity as vice president at the time to help Ukranian energy company Burisma, which his son Hunter Biden served on the board of, by pushing for the firing of Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin.
There is no evidence Joe Biden intentionally tried to help his son by urging Shokin’s ouster, and both Bidens have denied any wrongdoing. Biden and others in the Obama administration have said they urged for Shokin’s dismissal because he was accused of neglecting corruption in his office and for failing to bring corruption cases.
Lutsenko also told The Washington Post on Thursday that the former U.S. vice president’s son did not break any Ukrainian laws while serving on Burisma’s board, in the former prosecutor general’s first interview since the declassification of a whistleblower complaint that alleges Trump pressured newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to find dirt on the Bidens.
The complaint by an anonymous U.S. intelligence official is at the center of a formal House impeachment inquiry into the president and alleges Trump used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. elections.”
The complaint includes a July 25 call in which Trump pressured Zelensky to “do us a favor, though” and work with Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr to find damaging information on his potential political rival. The call, which the White House released a summary of last week, occurred just days after Trump suspended nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
Lutsenko’s statements to the LA Times should be taken with caution considering the whistleblower’s complaint says he was a source for Giuliani and Trump on many unsubstantiated claims about Ukrainian corruption investigations, including the ones related to the Bidens. The New York Times also reported Saturday that Lutsenko at one point took “procedural steps” to further investigations involving Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky linked to Hunter Biden, resulting in Giuliani and Trump promoting stories about the Bidens to conservative journalists in the U.S.
Lutsenko was also involved in the U.S. State Department removing U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in May, which happened as Giuliani increased pressure on the new Zelensky administration to get involved in U.S. politics. Lutsenko alleged that Yovanovitch interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections by handing him a “do not prosecute” list and “had blocked Ukrainian prosecutors from traveling to the United States expressly to prevent them from delivering ‘evidence’ about the 2016 U.S. election,” the complaint stated.
Lutsenko admitted in April that he was the one who requested the “do not prosecute” list. In Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky, the U.S. president threatened Yovanovitch by saying she’s “bad news” and is “going to go through some things.”
House investigators have scheduled an Oct. 2 deposition with Yovanovitch as part of the impeachment inquiry. The House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees also scheduled depositions with several other State Department officials, such as Ambassador Kurt Volker who resigned as U.S. special envoy for Ukraine a day after the whistleblower complaint was released to the public.
The committees also issued subpoenas on Friday for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Giuliani said was aware of his shadow diplomacy with the Ukrainian government.