Giuliani pressured Ukraine to investigate Biden family, new transcript reveals
A new transcript has surfaced of the former Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, putting pressure on the Ukrainian government to open an investigation into the Biden family. The transcript of a 40-minute call between Giuliani and two Ukrainian officials, was obtained by Time magazine, and served as a reminder of Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, even as his second is under way in the Senate.
The trigger for the first impeachment was a call Trump made to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which he hinted US military aid might depend on Zelenskiy’s willingness to “do us a favor” and launch an investigation that might cloud the image of Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who was on the board of an Ukrainian energy company.
In both impeachment trials, Trump is accused of using the power of the presidency in an attempt to secure a second term. The charge against him has escalated from improper pressure on a foreign government to inciting an insurrection, but Republican senators are expected to save him from conviction this time as they did in the first trial a year ago.
Giuliani’s call to the Ukrainian officials came three days before Trump’s, on 22 July 2019, to two Zelenskiy aides. One of them, Igor Novikov, sent the transcript to Time earlier this month.
“Let these investigations go forward,” Giuliani told them, according to the transcript, which Time said it has verified. “Get someone to investigate this.”
The former New York mayor is more restrained in his language than Trump. According to the transcript, he does not make overt threats but repeatedly warned the Ukrainians “to be careful”.
“For our country’s sake and your country’s sake, we [need to] get all these facts straight,” Giuliani added. “We fix them and we put it behind us.”
The Zelenskiy government resisted the pressure from the Trump administration, and the transcript was supplied to Time as Kyiv seeks to build its relationship with Biden.
Novikov has said he will assist a federal investigation of Giuliani reported to be under way in New York, as well as an effort to strip Giuliani of his license to practice law.
“That is because I believe Mayor Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine threatened our national security,” Novikov told Time. He left the Zelenskiy administration in August but has retained close ties. “It is our responsibility to make sure that any effort to drag our country into our allies’ domestic politics does not go unpunished.”
A lawyer representing Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday morning, and Time reported that Giuliani did not respond its own questions about the transcript.
Last week, President Zelenskiy shut down three Ukrainian media networks he accused of spreading Russian propaganda, and which had played a role in the spreading of groundless allegations about the Bidens during the US presidential campaign.
“The past is the past,” President Zelenskiy told Time. “I care deeply about the future of our relationship with the United States, so I want to focus on that.”
The 40-minute call, a transcript of which was obtained by TIME, provides the clearest picture yet of Giuliani’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainians on Trump’s behalf. The President’s personal lawyer toggled between veiled threats — “Be careful,” he warned repeatedly—and promises to help improve Ukraine’s relations with Trump.
“My only motive—it isn’t to get anybody in trouble who doesn’t deserve to be in trouble,” Giuliani said. “For our country’s sake and your country’s sake, we [need to] get all these facts straight,” he added. “We fix them and we put it behind us.”
The conversation on July 22, 2019, kicked off the campaign of intimidation that resulted in Trump’s first impeachment.
For a year and half, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his aides said little about their interactions with Giuliani, not wanting to anger an emissary of the U.S. President. But now, as the Trump era ends with a historic second impeachment trial, the Ukrainians have begun to speak up about the circumstances that led to the first. They are also taking steps that could imperil Giuliani and his Ukrainian allies.
Igor Novikov, who served as a close adviser to Zelensky during Trump’s first impeachment, says he is willing to assist an ongoing federal investigation of Giuliani that is reportedly underway in New York, as well as a separate effort to strip Giuliani of his license to practice law.
Zelensky’s government has taken legal action against Giuliani’s Ukrainian associates. And they have opened up to the media about the pressure campaign mounted by Trump and his allies. On Feb. 3, Novikov sent TIME a transcript of the Giuliani call, whose accuracy TIME has independently verified.
Giuliani did not respond to a detailed list of questions about the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian officials, the Ukrainian support for his disbarment and the federal investigation.
In a series of interviews, Zelensky’s advisers say their motives are not to get even with Giuliani or merely clarify the historical record. Their goal is to rebuild relations with the U.S. now that President Joe Biden has taken office.
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Donald Trump called Joe Biden a “mental retard” during the 2020 election, a new book says, but was reluctant to attack him too strongly for fear the Democrats would replace him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. Biden went on to beat Trump by more than 7m in the popular vote and by 306-232 in the electoral college, a result Trump deemed a landslide when it was in his favor against Clinton in 2016.
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