Several months before President Donald Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine's newly elected president, associates of his attorney Rudy Giuliani were urging the country's prior president to announce investigations into Joe Biden's son and 2016 election interference in exchange for a state visit to Washington D.C., sources familiar with the meetings say.
In late February, Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman met with then-Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko at the offices of Ukraine General Prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, reports The Wall Street Journal, citing the unnamed sources.
Their meeting came soon after Parnas and Fruman had met in New York City with Giuliani, who was at that point Trump's personal lawyer and Lutsenko in late January and then again in Warsaw in mid-February.
Lutsenko said in March that he was investigating Joe and Hunter Biden and election interference, but by May said he hadn't found evidence of wrongdoing, and no White House meeting came about.
The February meeting had not been previously reported, notes the Wall Street Journal, but showed Giuliani's associates were pushing Ukraine to open investigations that would benefit Trump politically.
After Poroshenko lost to current President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Trump ended up speaking with the new president personally, pushing him eight times to investigate the Bidens.
According to one of the publication's sources, Poroshenko was in a tough battle for his re-election and had told aides he wanted to visit Washington, D.C. in an attempt to impress Ukraine voters.
“He wanted to come to Washington and meet with Trump and then after the state dinner he would have an interview” with a major news organization when he would "say he would investigate meddling in 2016 and the Bidens."
Robert Costello, one of Giuliani's lawyers, said the former mayor had no knowledge of the meeting, and representatives of Poroshenko, Lutsenko, and Fruman, or the White House, did not respond to comment requests, and Pamas' lawyer declined to comment.
Giuliani has claimed his Ukraine efforts were made on Trump's behalf in an effort to "defend my client against false charges."
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