It seems those close to President Donald Trump were calling on Ukrainian leaders to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden much earlier than what was previously known. Two associates of Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, pushed the former Ukrainian president in February to open a probe into Biden as well as into the 2016 election, reports the Wall Street Journal. They allegedly told then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at a meeting in the offices of Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko that announcing the probes would translate into a state visit to Washington.
The Giuliani associates that relayed the message were Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted on criminal charges last month on campaign finance charges, accused of funneling foreign money into U.S. elections. And while there was no White House meeting in the end it shows how people close to Giuliani were dangling the possibility of the state visit in exchange for an investigation that could benefit Trump. At the time, Poroshenko was locked in a tight reelection campaign and a visit to Washington could have helped him. He eventually lost the election to Volodymyr Zelensky, who Trump called in July and, among other issues, urged a probe into the Bidens.
Even though Poroshenko never announced the investigations, it seems clear the issue was at least on the mind of top officials in his administration. Lutsenko told the Hill in an interview in March that he launched a probe into alleged efforts by Ukrainians to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. “Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said. A lawyer for Giuliani said the former mayor had no knowledge of the meeting between his associates and Ukrainian officials.