Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani had a lengthy meeting last week with a former Ukrainian diplomat as part of aggressive efforts aimed at gathering information to undermine Democrats in the United States.
The Ukrainian, Andrii Telizhenko, has made unproven claims that the Democratic National Committee worked with the Kiev government in 2016 to dig up incriminating information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was sentenced in March to more than seven years in prison on conspiracy and fraud charges. The DNC has denied Telizhenko’s claims.
“He was in Washington and he came up to New York, and we spent most of the afternoon together,” Giuliani said in an interview, referring to his meeting with Telizhenko.
Giuliani declined to say what the two men discussed. “I can’t tell you a thing about the meeting,” he said. “When I have something to say, I’ll say it.”
Telizhenko confirmed the meeting but declined to offer an extensive summary. “We spoke on U.S.-Ukraine relations and politics in D.C. and Ukraine,” he said.
The previously undisclosed meeting marks the latest move by Giuliani to obtain information from foreign nationals about President Trump’s political opponents — and to potentially use that information to help his client in the 2020 election.
Giuliani has previously talked with law enforcement and government officials in Ukraine about the DNC claims and about Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas producer while his father was vice president.
Giuliani’s Ukraine-related activities have sparked concerns both in Kiev and in the State Department that he is improperly blurring the lines between his role as the president’s lawyer and the U.S. government. Giuliani says he has informed Ukrainian officials in writing that he is representing only the president in a personal capacity, and not the administration.
Earlier this month, Giuliani canceled a trip to Ukraine after objections from State Department officials. He said he canceled the trip when he realized that people inside the country were working against him.
White House officials also were concerned about the planned trip, and even Trump believed the idea was too “hot,” according to a senior administration official.
But Giuliani said he remained interested in investigating Democratic ties with Ukraine.
Telizhenko, 28, is a political consultant educated in the United States and Canada who has previously worked in the Ukrainian government and prosecutor general’s office. One of his clients was Andrii Artemenko, the man behind the so-called “Ukrainian peace deal,” a proposal for a negotiated end to hostilities on terms favorable to Russia that Artemenko backchanneled to Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, shortly before Trump was inaugurated in 2017.
From December 2015 to June 2016, Telizhenko served as third secretary in the political section in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. During that time, he claims, he witnessed examples of Ukrainian officials openly favoring Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.
His accusations, first reported by Politico, hinge on two allegations. First, that Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Valeriy Chaly, instructed embassy staffers not to engage with Trump’s presidential campaign, because “Hillary was going to win.”
The second was that a Ukrainian American working as a DNC contractor coordinated with the Ukrainian Embassy to find compromising material on Trump and Manafort.
Telizhenko has gone on to accuse former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko of being directly involved in the effort to undermine Trump’s candidacy and has said that the “black ledgers” — internal bookkeeping from deposed president’s Viktor Yanukovych’s political party, which alleged $12.7 million in payments to Manafort — were forgeries.
Embassy staffers, the former DNC contractor and former members of Poroshenko’s administration have strongly denied Telizhenko’s claims.
Stern reported from Kiev. Paul Sonne in Washington contributed to this report.