Earlier this week, CNN released exclusively-obtained audio recordings in which former personal attorney and adviser to President Trump, Rudy Giuliani, can be heard pressuring Ukranian officials to announce a formal investigations into then-candidate Joe Biden’s alleged interference in the 2016 election, and his alleged corrupt dealings in Ukraine.
The audio provides further evidence that Giuliani was involved in inappropriate discussions with the Ukranian government, the very claims that led to Trump’s first impeachment. In the recordings, Giuliani specifically mentions that by announcing formal investigations into Biden, US-Ukranian relations could be greatly improved. This particular portion of the audio undermines Trump’s oft-repeated claim that there was “no quid pro quo” involving Ukraine, as the recording clearly shows Giuliani offering US government support to Ukraine in exchange for political favors that would help Trump’s reelection.
The recordings are of a call between Giuliani, former diplomatic representative to the Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, senior adviser to Ukrainian president Zelensky. In one part, Giuliani mentions that Ukraine needs to take the Biden investigations “seriously” and goes on to say, “That would clear the air really well,” Giuliani said, according to the recording. “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.”
Guiliani began the call by touting right-wing theories, such as George Soros’ involvement in election meddling in 2016. When Yermak pushed back, saying there was no reliable evidence of any of these theories, Giuliani continued to try and convince him that if Zelensky publicly announced the two investigations Trump requested, Zelensky could curry political favor with the United States. At the time of the call, Ukraine was actively involved in a war with Russia, and Ukrainian officials worried that such calls could further upset relations if Russia thought Ukraine was negotiating with the United States.
The call concluded with Giuliani reiterating the importance of the investigation announcement, and mentioning that Trump and Zelensky were scheduled to talk in the coming days and that Zelensky should use the call to assure Trump that the investigations would take place. Yermak agreed the leaders would be discussing this request, though Ukraine never indicated they would announce any such investigations. Trump and Zelensky would connect via phone three days later, in the call that resulted in Trump’s first impeachment.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: CNN
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