Former Trump officials and lobbyists met with campaign advisers for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy before Zelenskiy's controversial summer phone call with President Donald Trump, CNBC reports.
Mike Rubino, a former Trump campaign adviser and former representative in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Matt Mowers, a former State Department member, and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer had dinner with Zelenskiy's campaign advisers April 16 at BLT Prime in New York.
Zelenskiy won Ukraine's presidential election a week later. Zelenskiy's campaign hired Signal Group Consulting to set up meetings with government officials before he won the election.
Marcus Cohen, a U.S.-based attorney, helped coordinate the gatherings.
Rubino told CNBC he did not know the people he met were with Zelenskiy's campaign.
"Honestly, I think Signal was trying to impress them," Rubino said. "I just did it as a favor. I showed up, sat down, ate dinner, and left. I didn't really speak to anybody because they spoke in a different language."
Spicer said his presence at the dinner was brief.
"They introduced me to the campaign guy," Spicer said in an interview.
"I had every impression that they [Signal] were trying to impress this client," he added.
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