Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has targeted the top US diplomat in Ukraine, who has become a key witness to the impeachment.
Federal investigating authorities Rudy Giuliani are seeking information on a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was dismissed two years ago by order of then-President Donald Trump, a lawyer for Giuliani said on Friday.
Robert Costello confirmed by text to The Associated Press that a search warrant served this week in Giuliani referred to Marie Yovanovitch, who, as a central actor in the first impeachment case against Trump, detailed a smear campaign against Giuliani and other Trump allies that preceded his resignation in 2019.
Costello said the warrant also referred to former Ukrainian prosecutor Yuri Lutsenko, who met Giuliani and was also part of efforts to remove Yovanovich from his post.
The fact that the warrant mentions Yovanovich, and that it seeks communication between Giuliani and several Ukrainians, suggests that authorities are trying to determine whether Giuliani’s efforts to impeach the ambassador were made at the behest of Trump or the Ukrainians.
This distinction is important because federal law requires anyone lobbying the United States on behalf of a country or foreign entity to register their work with the Department of Justice.
The former New York City mayor told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that electronics seized from his Manhattan residence and a separate office on Wednesday would show he did not violate federal law as he sought to unearth Joe Biden in Ukraine in 2019 to support Trump.
The New York Times newspaper was the first to report on the mandate’s reference to Yovanovich.
The kidnapping of Yovanovitch in May 2019 was one of the pivotal episodes of the Trump impeachment case, coming just months before a phone call in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter.
Trump and his Republican allies tried to turn Hunter Biden’s business relationship into member of the board of directors of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in an American political scandal that would harm Joe Biden’s presidential candidacy. Hunter has denied any wrongdoing and the Republican scandal has failed to gain traction.
Giuliani has advanced these same efforts in his own discussions with Ukrainian officials, meeting with a Ukrainian lawmaker who released audio recordings during the 2020 presidential campaign in an attempt to discredit Biden’s candidacy.
Yovanovitch, a career diplomat who served for decades under Republican and Democratic presidents and was first appointed by Ronald Reagan, testified in frightening detail during the impeachment trial over a “smear campaign” against her by Giuliani and others before her dismissal.
Yovanovich also said Home arraignment investigators that Ukrainian officials had told him that Giuliani was in contact with the former Ukrainian prosecutor Lutsenko “and that they had plans and that they were going, you know, to do things, including with regard to me”.
She said that she was told that Lutsenko “sought to harm me in the United States”.
An attorney for Yovanovich declined to comment on Friday.