Newly released audio shows how Rudy Giuliani repeatedly suggested Ukraine could have a “better relationship” with the United States if the country’s president opened an investigation into Joe Biden and his son in 2019.
CNN said Monday it obtained audio of the July 2019 phone call between Giuliani and U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The audio shows how aggressive Giuliani, who was serving as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, was in trying to secure the Ukrainian leader’s support for a bogus investigation into then-Democratic presidential candidate Biden.
“All we need from the president [Zelensky] is to say, ‘I’m gonna put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election,’ and then the Biden thing has to be run out,” Giuliani said. ” … Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”
The 40-minute call took place just days before the discussion in which Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to “do us a favor” and announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had been on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. The call with Zelensky became central to the House’s first vote to impeach Trump for attempting to pressure Ukraine to come up with dirt on his political rival in exchange for the release of U.S. military aid.
Some details from the call were made public after Time magazine published a transcript earlier this year, but CNN’s audio stresses the extent of Giuliani’s pressure campaign. BuzzFeed News also published transcripts in April.
“That would clear the air really well,” Giuliani says at one point to Yermak about an announcement of an investigation. Zelensky had been hoping for a diplomatic visit to the U.S., which Giuliani said could be fast-tracked with the Ukrainian’s support.
“And I think it would make it possible for me to come and make it possible, I think, for me to talk to the president [Trump] to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside … I kinda think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship,” Giuliani says in the call.
Despite the end of Trump’s presidency, Giuliani has remained at the center of federal investigations. The New York Times reported last month that prosecutors were looking into whether Ukraine meddled in the 2020 presidential election in part by funneling misinformation through the attorney (Giuliani has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but he was a major spokesman for Trump’s attacks on Biden and his son during the campaign).
A separate investigation in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is homing in on Giuliani’s work for Trump to see if he lobbied to remove Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in 2019 because Kyiv wanted her fired. That investigation was ramped up after the FBI executed search warrants at Giuliani’s home and office in April.
Giuliani has not been accused of any wrongdoing in that investigation either, and has denied any impropriety.
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