Former New York Mayor Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani has confirmed that he spoke with Ukrainian officials about former US Vice President Joe Biden’s possible involvement in the dismissal of the general prosecutor of Ukraine Viktor Shokin who was involved in a probe into business dealings involving Biden’s son, CNN has reported.
Giuliani, who is currently an attorney to US president Donald Trump, said that the State Department informed him that Andriy Yermak, a recently appointed aide to Ukrainian’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, wanted to meet with him.
Giuliani said that he spoke twice over the phone with Yermak and then agreed to meet him in Madrid in July. The Ukrainian official then reportedly asked Giuliani questions about the role of Joe Biden, who is currently seeking the Democratic nomination for the 2020 Presidential election, in the dismissal of the general prosecutor of Ukraine during Biden’s term as VP in 2016.
Giuliani claimed that Donald Trump did not want to pursue the issue. Giuliani also said that he did not try to influence the Ukrainian official as he “did not need to”, but did say that he discussed with him how the prosecutor’s dismissal might have been an attempt to damage Trump’s campaign.
"I wouldn't do an unethical thing in my life, I'm a really good lawyer," Giuliani told CNN, in relation to the how his talks with Yermak might be perceived. "I'm proud of what I did," he added.
Giuliani told CNN that he was not planning to go to Ukraine, as he thought he would be walking into a “group of people who are enemies to the president, in some cases enemies of the United States.” It was not clear from the interview who Giuliani was referring to.
The story was initially reported by the New York Times on 21 August. The newspaper said that Giuliani met with top representatives of the Ukrainian president in order to encourage the Ukrainian government to probe attempts to damage Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, as well as links between Biden’s diplomatic involvement in Ukraine’s internal politics and his son Hunter Biden's work for the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.
The New York Times also reported that Giuliani’s Ukrainian contact was warned not to work with Trump’s attorney by an aide to Democratic Representative Steny H. Hoyer during his trip to Washington in July.
Giuliani previously declared his plans to visit Ukraine in May 2019 in relation to the investigation into Biden’s role in the firing of the prosecutor in 2016. But Giuliani later called off the trip, calling it “a set up”.
Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden was elected to the board of directors of Burisma, an energy company operating in the Ukrainian oil and gas sector, in 2014, along with the former Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center Joseph Black and former Polish president Aleksander Kwaśniewski.
In 2016 then Vice-president Biden reportedly requested that Kiev fire Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Victor Shokin, at a time when Shokin was leading a wide-range corruption investigation into Burisma.