BuzzFeed: Giuliani tried to get Zelensky to open a case against Biden
The call that happened three days before the infamous conversation between US President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has acquired a new relevance after this week the federal authorities committed ransacking the home and office of Trump's former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, writes BuzzFeed News.
The infamous call in which 45th President Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to do him a "favor" and investigate Hunter Biden's story and the reasons for the investigation against Russia took place on July 25, 2019 and ultimately led to Trump's first impeachment. But the campaign to pressure Ukrainians began earlier - three days earlier, Rudy Giuliani, then the personal lawyer of the US president, called a senior Zelenskiy aide and asked him to tell the Ukrainian leader to “just let the investigation move on.”
The conversation between Giuliani and Andrei Yermak, then Zelenskiy's chief foreign policy adviser and currently the head of his administration, took place on July 22, 2019. Details of the conversation between Giuliani and Yermak were first published by Time in February. But BuzzFeed News is publishing a transcript for the first time.
Federal authorities conducted a search in Giuliani's apartment and office in New York and seized his electronic devices. The FBI investigation into the former mayor of New York focuses on his business activities in Ukraine. It is unclear whether Giuliani's conversation with Yermak was factored into the investigation by the US authorities, but it provides insight into the interactions of Trump's lawyer with the Ukrainian side.
During the call, Giuliani referred to the investigation into Joe Biden's son Hunter, which he hoped would be led by a new attorney general, appointed by Zelenskiy. In addition, he spoke of the need to conduct an investigation into “Ukraine's interference in the 2016 US elections,” which Joe Biden allegedly blocked. Time and again, Trump's personal lawyer insisted that Yermak persuade Zelenskiy to make a public statement on the matter.
The transcript was provided by Igor Novikov, who was Zelensky's advisor during his first year in power and heard this conversation.
Novikov said that in addition to him, the former US special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volcker, knew about the content of the conversation. Yermak did not respond to requests for comment; Volcker said he had nothing to add to his public testimony.
Text messages uncovered during the Trump first impeachment investigation show that Volcker organized the call to Giuliani Yermak. Sources in Ukraine and the United States, familiar with the situation, on condition of anonymity due to the delicate nature of the document, confirmed the authenticity of the transcript to BuzzFeed News.
Giuliani and his lawyer, Robert Costello, could not be reached for comment. In a statement posted on his website, Giuliani denied any wrongdoing and called the searches unnecessary as he twice offered to answer questions from prosecutors.
Here are some excerpts from the 39 transcript of a 2019-minute conversation between Giuliani and Yermak.
“I want to assure you that I really want to see that our two countries can work together. I have been interested in Ukraine for a very long time. I really admire your country. I sympathize with everything you've been through. And I have always had very good relations with everyone in Ukraine, except for some very bad ones. I would really like this President [Zelenskiy] to be successful. So in any way that I can help ... (inaudible) ... of my duties as a lawyer for the president, I am happy to do it. "
“I am participating in this because last November I received information from an international investigator that during the 2016 elections in Ukraine there was some activity with the participation of Ukrainian officials and citizens“ to compromise the then candidate Trump and Paul Manafort ”. When I heard this and was told that former Attorney General Shokin was ready to talk about it, I tried to persuade him to come to the United States. The State Department blocked his visa. I had a Skype video conversation with him. He told me that he was fired because Vice President Biden threatened Poroshenko not to give a loan guarantee, which was critical at the time, because the country was in danger of default. My interest in this was due to collusion ... I hate that word. My guess is that this is a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election. But I'm stuck on the Biden statement. Now it is not in my hands, it is being investigated, but at that time I was not sure who would investigate it. "
“I wanted to meet with the president-elect [of Ukraine] to tell him, just let these investigations move forward, you know, find someone to investigate. Someone who is truly honest, who is not intimidated. And then we can get all the facts. Because no matter how hard we try to get him [Biden] here in the US, even the FBI ... Some of this happened in Ukraine, and if they dig it up, it will be very valuable to make sure it never happens again. "
“I am not interested in anyone telling lies or exaggerating. All we need from President [Zelenskiy] is to say, "I will appoint an honest prosecutor, he will investigate and dig up the evidence that currently exists and is there any other evidence of involvement in the 2016 elections." And then the Biden case will exhaust itself. "
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“We are ready to listen to our valuable partners and act accordingly once we have full control. Believe me, we need a month, two months to complete the formation of a new parliament, a new government, new security blocks for our team, and we will completely change and work, and believe me ... when we can get all the materials that are now on investigation of the previous government, we will be ready to immediately work properly in accordance with the legislation, and, believe me, we establish and protect the norms of law of Ukraine and absolutely change this entire old system. And we will be ready to communicate right away to coordinate, work and investigate what you described. "
“If [Zelenskiy] could make a statement at the right time, it would really clarify the situation well. And I think that would give me the opportunity to come and, I think, talk to President [Trump] to see what I can do to clear up any misunderstandings. I even think it can be good for improving relations when we really understand each other. "
"I'm sure Zelenskiy will say that, yes."
"It would be ... believe me, Andrei, it would be good for all of us."
The full unedited transcript of the conversation in English is available at here.
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