Gi­u­liani sought Ukraine busi­ness

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man, Tom Ham­burger and Matt Zapo­to­sky

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s per­sonal at­tor­ney, Rudy Gi­u­liani, ne­go­ti­ated ear­lier this year to rep­re­sent Ukraine’s top pros­e­cu­tor for at least $200,000 dur­ing the same months that Gi­u­liani was work­ing with the pros­e­cu­tor to dig up dirt on for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions.

The peo­ple said that Gi­u­liani be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions with Ukraine’s top pros­e­cu­tor, Yuri Lut­senko, about a pos­si­ble agree­ment in Fe­bru­ary. In the agree­ment, Gi­u­liani’s com­pany would re­ceive pay­ment to rep­re­sent Lut­senko as the Ukrainian sought to re­cover

as­sets he be­lieved had been stolen from the gov­ern­ment in Kyiv, those fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sions said.

The talks oc­curred as Gi­u­liani met with Lut­senko in New York in Jan­uary and then in War­saw in Fe­bru­ary while he was also gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion from Lut­senko on two top­ics Gi­u­liani be­lieved could prove use­ful to Trump: the in­volve­ment of Bi­den, and his son, Hunter, in Ukraine and al­le­ga­tions that Ukraine, not Rus­sia, had in­ter­fered in the 2016 elec­tion.

Trump ul­ti­mately pressed Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Ze­len­skiy to open in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the two is­sues dur­ing a July 25 phone call be­tween the two lead­ers, a call that sparked a whistle­blower com­plaint and the con­gres­sional im­peach­ment in­quiry.

A per­son fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions de­scribed a se­ries of con­tracts that were drafted ear­lier this year in which Gi­u­liani would have worked for Lut­senko or sep­a­rately, the Ukrainian Min­istry of Jus­tice.

For Lut­senko, the agree­ment would have pro­vided a pipe­line to Trump’s lawyer and, through him, po­ten­tially to other top U.S. of­fi­cials. For Gi­u­liani, the agree­ments would have been a way to ac­crue fi­nan­cial ben­e­fit from a per­son who was also pro­vid­ing him po­lit­i­cally dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion that could help an­other client, the pres­i­dent of the United States.

Trump di­rected U.S. diplo­mats to work with Gi­u­liani on Ukraine is­sues.

The agree­ments were never ex­e­cuted and there is no in­di­ca­tion that Gi­u­liani was ul­ti­mately paid by Lut­senko or other Ukrainian of­fi­cials. But the ne­go­ti­a­tions pro­ceeded far enough that a se­ries of le­gal agree­ments were drafted un­der which Gi­u­liani’s com­pany would have re­ceived more than $200,000 to work for the Ukraini­ans, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the agree­ments said.

Some ver­sions of the agree­ment en­vi­sioned Wash­ing­ton hus­band-and­wife lawyers Vic­to­ria Toens­ing and Joe diGen­ova also play­ing a role and re­ceiv­ing pay­ment.

A Fe­bru­ary draft re­tainer agree­ment with Lut­senko called for the trio to help re­cover money al­legedly stolen from Ukraine. The draft called for Lut­senko to re­tain Gi­u­liani Part­ners, as well as diGen­ova and Toens­ing, and pay a $200,000 re­tainer to Gi­u­liani Part­ners.

The per­son said that an­other re­tainer agree­ment, drafted in March, called for Gi­u­liani Part­ners to re­ceive $300,000 from the Ukrainian Min­istry of Jus­tice for help lo­cat­ing the sup­pos­edly stolen as­sets. That draft agree­ment also stated that Toens­ing and diGen­ova would be work­ing on the mat­ter. That agree­ment called for pay­ments to be made to Gi­u­liani Part­ners.

Yet an­other pro­posal called for the Ukrainian Jus­tice Min­istry to hire Toens­ing and diGen­ova for as­set re­cov­ery, but did not men­tion Gi­u­liani.

An at­tor­ney for Gi­u­liani de­clined to com­ment on the ne­go­ti­a­tions. Lut­senko, who served as Ukraine’s top pros­e­cu­tor un­til Au­gust, could not be im­me­di­ately reached for com­ment. But in an in­ter­view with the pub­li­ca­tion Ukrainian Truth ear­lier this month, Lut­senko de­scribed how he was ea­ger for Gi­u­liani to help him get a meet­ing with the U.S. at­tor­ney general to dis­cuss ev­i­dence he had un­cov­ered that Ukrainian as­sets had been routed through U.S. bank ac­counts.

Speaking in Ukrainian, Lut­senko said that Gi­u­liani at first agreed he could help make the con­nec­tion but that he never did.

“For me, this is an ab­so­lute mys­tery. A few months later, a new United States At­tor­ney General was se­lected. I called back sev­eral times with as­sis­tants or ad­vis­ers to Gi­u­liani with the ques­tion: ‘Will there be or will not be a meet­ing?’ ” Lut­senko said.

He said Gi­u­liani told him he would have to hire a lob­by­ist to get the meet­ing. “They even of­fered me such a com­pany,” Lut­senko said. “I said that I am the pros­e­cu­tor general of Ukraine and will not pay a dime.”

He said he was told it would be “im­pos­si­ble” for him to get the meet­ing with­out pay­ing and he con­tin­ued to refuse. “’I will not pay money for any meet­ing,’” he said.

In a state­ment, a spokesman for Toens­ing and di Gen­ova said the cou­ple had pre­vi­ously said they had agreed to rep­re­sent peo­ple they de­scribed as “Ukrainian whistle­blow­ers.” Spokesman Mark Co­rallo con­firmed those dis­cus­sions in­cluded pos­si­ble rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Lut­senko.

“All the other names are at­tor­ney-client priv­i­leged and it is un­for­tu­nate that some un­eth­i­cal per­son chose to vi­o­late that priv­i­lege,” he said. Co­rallo said that all of the re­tainer let­ters un­der con­sid­er­a­tion in­cluded “the nec­es­sary no­tice of FARA reg­is­tra­tion,” re­fer­ring to the Foreign Agents Reg­is­tra­tion Act. That sug­gests the cou­ple had planned to reg­is­ter as foreign lob­by­ists if the agree­ments had been ex­e­cuted.

How­ever, Co­rallo said that no rep­re­sen­ta­tion was ever fi­nal­ized be­cause a trip that Toens­ing planned to Kyiv in May was can­celed after The New York Times re­ported that she was ac­com­pa­ny­ing Gi­u­liani, who had hoped to meet with Ukrainian of­fi­cials to press them to open an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bi­den and his son.

“No money was ever re­ceived and no le­gal work was ever per­formed be­cause the trip was can­celed,” Co­rallo said.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in New York have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Gi­u­liani and two as­so­ciates he tapped to help him con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions in Ukraine for a wide range of pos­si­ble crimes, in­clud­ing wire fraud.

The two as­so­ciates, Lev Par­nas and Igor Fru­man, were charged ear­lier this year in a cam­paign fi­nance case.

SERGEI SUPINSKY/GETTY-AFP

Rudy Gi­u­liani re­port­edly was in talks with Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor, Yuri Lut­senko, above.

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