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Friday
May102019

Giuliani plots trip to Ukraine in effort to hurt Biden, help Trump

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is on a new mission now that he has finished jousting with the special counsel: stopping former Vice President Joe Biden from becoming the 2020 Democratic nominee.

“Explain to me why Biden shouldn’t be investigated,” Giuliani said Friday in a tweet that went on to level allegations against the former vice president, who is now a leading Democratic candidate for president.

In a trip planned for the coming days, Giuliani is heading to Ukraine where he wants to meet with that nation’s president-elect to encourage him to look into matters that could help his client, President Trump.

The former New York mayor has told reporters his agenda includes a request to Ukrainian leaders for any information they can share about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which concluded last month. He also plans to ask for more details about any action taken by former Vice President Biden, while he was in office, that may have benefited his son, Hunter Biden.

Giuliani predicted there would be questions about whether he was encouraging foreign interference in a U.S. presidential campaign, and he sought to preempt those concerns with comments first to the New York Times and later confirmed to ABC News.

"There’s nothing illegal about it,” Giuliani said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop."

The former New York mayor has told reporters his agenda includes a request to Ukrainian leaders for any information they can share about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, which concluded last month. He also plans to ask for more details about any action taken by former Vice President Biden, while he was in office, that may have benefited his son, Hunter Biden.

Giuliani predicted there would be questions about whether he was encouraging foreign interference in a U.S. presidential campaign, and he sought to preempt those concerns with comments first to the New York Times and later confirmed to ABC News.

"There’s nothing illegal about it,” Giuliani said. “Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop."

Giuliani also appeared on Fox News, to further argue that the foreign trip is in keeping with his responsibility as President Trump's attorney.

"I am his lawyer," Guiliani said on Fox. "One of the things lawyers do when they defend a client is develop innocent hypothesis explanations of what your client was charged with."

The Ukrainian firm paid an investment and consulting partnership he ran called Rosemont Seneca roughly $3 million over a year and a half, according to 260 pages of Rosemont Seneca financial records, disclosed in an unrelated court case and reviewed by ABC News.

The payments to Hunter Biden’s firm came at a time when his father was point person for the Obama administration on U.S. policy toward Ukraine and pushing hard for reforms in the country, which had been saddled with corruption allegations.

One element of that effort was the vice president’s push the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who had been accused of being soft on corruption. Biden described the effort – in which said he used a planned announcement of a $1 billion U.S. loan guarantee to the country as leverage to fight corruption -- in a videotaped speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in January 2018, as first reported by The Hill.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion.’ I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Biden said he told then-Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko. “Well, son of a bitch, he got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Giuliani has raised a concern that the prosecutor who was fired, Viktor Shokin, was at the time leading a corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, the firm that was paying Hunter Biden’s consulting partnership and on whose board he served. Whether the prosecutor was, in fact, looking into Burisma Holdings – or if that effort was dormant --has been in dispute, and like many politically-freighted matters in the Ukraine, the facts have now become difficult to reconstruct.

A spokesperson for the former vice president told The New York Times that the 2016 push to oust Shokin came “without any regard for how it would or would not impact any business interests of his son, a private citizen” and was all part of a broadly-supported U.S. effort “to root out corruption in Ukraine.”

Hunter Biden told the newspaper in the statement, “At no time have I discussed with my father the company’s business, or my board service, including my initial decision to join the board.”

ABC News has reached out to the Biden and Trump presidential campaigns, neither have responded.

But Giuliani, for one, is clear in his desire to tease out more on the controversy.

“I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government,” he said.

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