Rudy Giuliani attempted to profit off of Ukraine efforts, documents show

The negotiations progressed to the point where a series of contracts were drawn up, according to a new report

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published November 27, 2019 5:47PM (EST)

Rudy Giuliani (AP Photo/Salon)
Rudy Giuliani (AP Photo/Salon)

President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani negotiated a contract, which would have paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars, with a former Ukrainian prosecutor who helped him search for damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden, documents show.

Former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, who was fired from his post amid allegations of corruption, gave Giuliani false information about Biden, which the former New York City mayor later fed to conservative journalist John Solomon of The Hill. Solomon pushed Giuliani’s narrative citing statements from Lutsenko, but the prosecutor later retracted his comments, saying there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden.

As Lutsenko was helping Giuliani search for evidence that would help Trump’s re-election chances, Giuliani negotiated a contract to represent Lutsenko for at least $200,000, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post and The New York Times.

Giuliani offered to represent Lutsenko in his bid to recover assets, which he believed were stolen from the government in Kyiv, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars to be paid to Giuliani’s company. The negotiations took place as the two worked together to find damaging information on the Bidens and evidence to support Trump’s baseless conspiracy theory that Ukraine — not Russia — interfered in the 2016 election.

The negotiations progressed to the point where a series of contracts were drawn up, The Post reported. A draft retainer called for Lutsenko to pay $200,000 to Giuliani Partners and another draft retainer called for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice to pay Giuliani Partners $300,000. Some of the agreements also involved payments to Trump-allied attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, who also aided Giuliani’s efforts.

None of the agreements were reportedly executed, though one of the drafts was signed by Giuliani. There is no evidence that Giuliani was paid by Lutsenko. All of the parties have different accounts of why the deal fell apart.

Lutsenko told the publication Ukrainskaya Pravda earlier this month that Giuliani was “eager” to help him set up a meeting with Trump’s attorney general to discuss his case. Giuliani also offered to hire a lobbyist for him to get the meeting, Lutsenko said.

“I said that I am the prosecutor general of Ukraine and will not pay a dime,” he added.

A spokesman for diGenova and Toensing confirmed to The Post that they discussed possibly representing Lutsenko. Spokesman Mark Corallo claimed that the deal fell through after Giuliani canceled their trip to Ukraine in May after he bragged to The Times that he was planning to search for dirt on Biden.

Giuliani claimed to The Times that he had rejected the deal, because it was “too complicated.”

The proposed agreement came after Lutsenko met with Giuliani in New York, according to the outlet, where he made claims about the Bidens that he later retracted.

Another agreement signed only by Toensing in April would have paid her $25,000 per month to represent former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor whose firing Biden pushed for in 2016 after he was accused of corruption. The agreement, which was also not executed, was “for the purpose of collecting evidence regarding his March 2016 firing as Prosecutor General of Ukraine and the role of then-Vice President Joe Biden in such firing, and presenting such evidence to U.S. and foreign authorities.”

While Shokin’s firing has long been the basis of Trump’s debunked conspiracy theory that Biden pressed to have the prosecutor removed because he was investigating a Ukrainian firm that employed his son — (there is no evidence this is the case — Lutsenko’s claims were a driving force in the Ukraine scandal.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance pointed out that State Department documents obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight show that Giuliani sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo an interview he did with Lutsenko, which “appears to have formed some of the basis for the discredited Solomon stories.”

Diplomat David Holmes testified last week that Lutsenko had been complaining since at least March that then-Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch had “destroyed him.”

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, testified that Lutsenko and Giuliani were “promoting false narratives” about Yovanovitch, which “undermined the United States’ Ukraine policy.”

“Lutsenko despised US Amb Yovanovitch. In this first quid pro quo, Giuliani got Yovanovitch fired in return for Lutsenko's agreement to open these investigations,” tweeted Michael McFaul, the former United States ambassador to Russia.

Yovanovitch’s firing played a key role in the arrest of Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were charged last month with funneling foreign money to Republican politicians. Parnas and Fruman tried to get Yovanovitch fired “at the request of one or more Ukrainian government officials," according to prosecutors.

Parnas and Fruman’s indictment triggered multiple investigations into Giuliani’s own dealings. Among other things, investigators are probing whether Giuliani personally stood to profit from his Ukraine efforts.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that subpoenas issued by prosecutors listed numerous potential charges under consideration, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering, serving as a foreign agent without registering, making false statements to the federal government, making illegal political contributions on behalf of foreign nationals, making campaign contributions in the name of another person, obstruction of justice, mail fraud and wire fraud.

Trump tried to distance himself from his own attorney, insisting Tuesday that he did not “direct” Giuliani to go to Ukraine. The president further suggested that his personal attorney's efforts could have been made on behalf of another client.

However, Giuliani previously said all of his actions were on behalf of Trump, and the president was his only client. Multiple administration officials have testified to Congress that Trump directed the effort, though Republicans reportedly plan to paint Giuliani as a “rogue” agent in an attempt to defend Trump in the impeachment probe.

"When you see a subpoena with eight different crimes listed on it, that's very telling. Look, Rudy Giuliani, as far as I can tell, is up to his eyeballs in crime,” former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah told MSNBC. “I would be surprised at this point if Rudy Giuliani didn't get indicted. Like I said, that subpoena with eight crimes on it seems very specific— very far along — to me.”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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