Ukraine initiated talks with Giuliani to hand over evidence

Ukraine initiated talks with Giuliani to hand over evidence about Americans they believe violated U.S. law during Obama years

By John Solomon: Why would Ukraine want to talk to Giuliani, and why would the State Department be involved in facilitating it?

According to interviews with more than a dozen Ukrainian and U.S. officials, Ukraine’s government under recently departed President Petro Poroshenko and, now, Zelensky has been trying since summer 2018 to hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years.

The Ukrainians say their efforts to get their allegations to U.S. authorities were thwarted first by the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, which failed to issue timely visas allowing them to visit America.

Then the Ukrainians hired a former U.S. attorney — not Rudy Giuliani — to hand-deliver the evidence of wrongdoing to the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, but the federal prosecutors never responded.

The U.S. attorney, a respected American, confirmed the Ukrainians’ story to me. The allegations that Ukrainian officials wanted to pass on involved both efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election as well as Joe Biden’s son’s effort to make money in Ukraine while the former vice president managed U.S.-Ukraine relations, the retired U.S. attorney told me.

Eventually, Giuliani in November 2018 got wind of the Ukrainian allegations and started to investigate.

As President Trump’s highest-profile defense attorney, the former New York City mayor, often known simply as Rudy, believed the Ukrainian’s evidence could assist in his defense against the Russia collusion investigation and former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report.

So Giuliani began to check things out in late 2018 and early 2019, but he never set foot in Ukraine. And when Ukrainian officials leaked word that he was considering visiting Ukraine to meet with senior officials to discuss the allegations — and it got politicized in America — Giuliani abruptly called off his trip. He stopped talking to the Ukrainian officials.

Since that time, my American and foreign sources tell me, Ukrainian officials worried that the slight of Giuliani might hurt their relations with his most famous client, Trump.

And Trump himself added to the dynamic by encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to work with Giuliani to surface the evidence of alleged wrongdoing that has been floating around for more than two years, my sources said.

It is likely that the State Department’s overture to Giuliani in July was designed to allay fears of a diplomatic slight and to assure the nascent Ukrainian administration that everything would be OK between the two allies.

The belief was that if Zelensky’s top lawyer could talk to Trump’s top lawyer, everything could be patched up, officials explained to me.

Ukrainian officials also are discussing privately the possibility of creating a parliamentary committee to assemble the evidence and formally send it to the U.S. Congress, after failed attempts to get the Department of Justice’s attention, my sources say.

Such machinations are common when two countries are navigating diplomatic challenges, and, often, extracurricular activities with private citizens are part of the strategy, even if they are not apparent to the American public.

So the media stories of Giuliani’s alleged political opposition research in Ukraine, it turns out, are a bit different than first reported. It’s exactly the sort of nuanced, complex news development that my mentor nearly 30 years ago warned about.

And it’s too bad a shallow media effort has failed to capture the whole story and tell it to the American public in its entirety.

It’s almost as though the lessons of the now-debunked Russia-Trump collusion narrative didn’t really sink in for some reporters. And that is a loss for the American public. The continuing folly was evidenced when much attention was given Friday to Hillary Clinton’s tweet suggesting Trump’s contact with Zelensky amounted to an effort to solicit a foreign power to interfere in the next election.

That tweet may be provocative, but it’s unfair. The contacts were about resolving what happened in the last election — and the last administration.

And if anyone is to have high moral ground on foreign interference in elections, Clinton can’t be first in line. Her campaign lawyers caused Christopher Steele, a British foreign national desperate to defeat to Trump, to be hired to solicit unverified allegations from Russians about Trump as part of an opposition research project and then went to the FBI to trump up an investigation on Trump. And her party leaders, the Democratic National Committee, asked the Ukrainian Embassy to also try to dig up dirt on Trump. That’s not a record worthy of throwing the first punch on this story.

The truth is, getting to the bottom of the Ukraine allegations will benefit everyone. If the Bidens and Ukraine did nothing wrong, they should be absolved. If wrongdoing happened, then it should be dealt with.

The folly of the current coverage is preventing us from getting the answer we deserve.

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