US federal prosecutors are investigating whether Ukrainians meddled in the 2020 presidential election, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the situation.
According to the report, US federal investigators along with the FBI are looking into whether certain Ukrainian officials, including Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani, spread "unsubstantiated claims" of corruption to hurt then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in order to help former President Donald Trump win re-election in the 2020 presidential race.
Giuliani is not a target in this investigation, but he is part of a separate criminal probe looking into his dealings in Ukraine, the report said. According to the undisclosed sources, the authorities looked into a trip Giuliani conducted to Europe in December 2019, during which he spoke with several Ukrainians. And at least one of the current and former officials Giuliani met, Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian member of parliament, is now a subject of the inquiry.
The report claims that the purpose of Giuliani's visit to the Eastern European country was a bid to derail Biden's nascent campaign by pressing Ukrainian authorities to initiate an investigation into the Bidens' dealings with Ukrainian officials.
The former president was reportedly informed by US intelligence that the information disseminated by Derkach was unreliable, as a result of which the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the Ukrainian member of parliament for "election interference", accusing him of being "an active Russian agent."
It is not yet clear whether the investigation will lead to charges being brought against Ukrainian nationals, the report noted.
Giuliani, however, in an interview last year stated that he met with Derkach while the latter was not subject to sanctions, and Giuliani had "no reason to believe he is a Russian agent."
The former NYC mayor's lawyer is quoted in the article as saying that "some day the truth will come out," in regard to Biden’s involvement in Ukraine.
Last month, prosecutors raided Giuliani's home and office under a warrant alleging a breach of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) for failing to register as a foreign agent on behalf of an unnamed Ukrainian politician. Giuliani and his lawyer claimed they contacted officials at the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York and offered to give records to prove the opposite. Officials at the SDNY, on the other hand, refused to allow him to do so.
Trump commented on the apartment search the day after the incident, saying that the investigators did not even know what they were looking for there. He added that officials from his former administration are constantly faced with "double standards", while Democratic politicians are treated differently.
Meanwhile, Hunter Biden, the president's son, is facing a federal criminal tax investigation that appears to be partly tied to work he did in Ukraine.