rudy giuliani
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Rudy Giuliani is traveling to Ukraine in order to further the president’s attempts to do the same thing to Joe Biden that his enablers did to Hillary Clinton in 2016. This time, they are openly asking a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, is encouraging Ukraine to wade further into sensitive political issues in the United States, seeking to push the incoming government in Kiev to press ahead with investigations that he hopes will benefit Mr. Trump…

“We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do,” Mr. Giuliani said in an interview on Thursday when asked about the parallel to the special counsel’s inquiry.

“There’s nothing illegal about it,” he said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”

As a reminder, Giuliani wants Ukraine to pursue an investigation of Burisma Holdings, owned by Mykola Zlochevsky, because Biden’s son Hunter sat on the board and received substantial compensation. As vice president, Biden had threatened to pull $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees if Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko didn’t fire the country’s top prosecutor for giving the oligarchs a pass on corruption. That prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was eventually fired and a chorus of right-wing conspiracy theorists are suggesting that Biden applied pressure to stop his investigation into Burisma.

On behalf of his client—who happens to be the president of a country that provides Ukraine with hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid—Giuliani is asking them to press ahead with an investigation that he thinks could be damaging to Joe Biden, one of Trump’s potential opponents in the 2020 election. Giuliani isn’t even being subtle about it, perhaps because he assumes that the president has gotten away with participating in another foreign government’s attempt to interfere in an election.

The above quotes from Giuliani are from an article in the New York Times that was written by Kenneth Vogel, who seems to be following this story closely. Along with Iuliia Mendel, he authored the May 1st article that waited until the 19th paragraph to note that there was no evidence “that the former vice president intentionally tried to help his son by pressing for the prosecutor general’s dismissal.”

Vogel’s latest piece fails to mention that two days before it was published, Bloomberg’s Stephanie Baker and Daryna Krasnolutska published a story detailing a timeline that totally debunks Giuliani’s claims. The author’s talked directly to Ukrainian officials and reviewed documents demonstrating that an investigation of Burisma began in early 2014 due to queries from the UK, where prosecutors were looking into money laundering by Zlochevsky.

According to people involved, that investigation was shelved in 2014 and through 2015, during which time “U.S. officials warned Ukrainian prosecutors of negative consequences for Ukraine over its failure to assist the U.K.” Biden’s pressure to fire the Ukrainian prosecutor came in the midst of this:

The U.S. plan to push for Shokin’s dismissal didn’t initially come from Biden, but rather filtered up from officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. Embassy personnel had called for U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine to be tied to broader anti-corruption efforts, including Shokin’s dismissal, this person said.

Biden’s threat to withhold $1 billion if Ukraine didn’t crack down on corruption reportedly came in March. That same month, hundreds of Ukrainians demonstrated outside President Petro Poroshenko’s office demanding Shokin’s resignation, and he was dismissed.

Vogel’s piece, which focuses entirely on Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into re-opening the investigation, failed to mention any of that.

Just as Trump and his enablers pushed a false story about Hillary Clinton being corrupt during her time as Secretary of State in the Obama administration, they are now attempting to create the impression that Biden corruptly intervened to help his son. Thankfully, Baker and Krasnolutska brought us the facts about what actually happened. Before this false story gains any more traction, publications like the New York Times need to follow suit in order to demonstrate that they learned something from their mistakes in 2016.

Once that is accomplished, the focus should be on the fact that the president’s lawyer is openly asking a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Follow Nancy on Twitter @Smartypants60.