Giuliani gives shifting answers on seeking info from Ukraine oligarch
Rudy Giuliani acknowledged this week meeting with a lawyer for a Ukrainian oligarch who he had previously said he had “nothing to do with.”
Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, told CNN in a series of text messages that he met a lawyer for oligarch Dmitry Firtash in New York City for two hours during a time he was seeking information useful to President Donald Trump’s re-election and seeking to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The acknowledgment is in apparent conflict with what Giuliani told CNN in October, when he said he did not think Firtash had information relevant to any of his efforts.
Giuliani first acknowledged asking for information from meeting with Firtash’s original legal team in a story posted by The New York Times on Monday.
“I have nothing to do with Firtash,” Giuliani said to CNN in an October email in response to a story on a London trip he took in 2018 with indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. “I don’t know why you want to create that false impression. I don’t represent him. I never met him. And I am neutral on his case. Also since he’s been absent from Ukraine for many years I never thought he had useful information about all the crimes Democrats were committing there in 2016.”
CNN previously reported, citing two sources, that Parnas had boasted that his luxurious lifestyle was bankrolled by Firtash including SUVs, bodyguards, and at least six private charter flights. Giuliani was on at least one of those flights, according to documents reviewed by CNN.
The meeting with a lawyer for Firtash suggests that Giuliani did, despite his October comments, think Firtash could have relevant information to his efforts and further shows the extent to which he reached out to Ukrainian-connected individuals at the height of his hunt for damaging information on Biden and Democrats. Firtash, who resides in Vienna, is fighting extradition to the US on unrelated 2013 federal bribery charges which he denies.
Firtash made his fortune selling Russian gas to the Ukrainian government, and the Justice Department previously described him as an “upper-echelon” associate linked to Russian organized crime.
Firtash denies any ties to organized crime and maintains his innocence. A spokesman for Firtash referred the request to his legal team, who declined to comment.
Asked about the discrepancy, Giuliani called CNN’s inquiry “horseshit” and “trickery,” and said previous responses to CNN were not misleading. Giuliani did acknowledge he didn’t know Firtash’s lawyer’s information would be not useful “until he told me.”
“I met with Firtash’s lawyer in NYC and reviewed case and concluded he couldn’t help my case because he had, at best, hearsay evidence,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “I wrote down ‘no use to us.’ I have never changed that opinion. So how did I Mislead you?”
Giuliani said the two-hour meeting focused on “collusion and corruption” in Ukraine.
“It was about evidence to help me defend my client against false charges and to show the unfairness of Mueller and DOJ in ignoring significant acts of interconnected collusion and corruption in Ukraine. They were out to get Trump not interference in our election if it was for other party,” he said.
“The conversation I had was with Firtash’s American lawyer, a former colleague of mine, and after a two -hour meeting, I concluded Firtash had no direct knowledge about Ukraine 2016,” he added. “He wasn’t living there and I didn’t have time for gossip. When I said had no contact with Firtash, I might have been thinking about just him and people who claim know him.”
Giuliani’s two indicted associates, Parnas and Fruman, met with Firtash in late June where they pressured him to hire two Trump-aligned attorneys, Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, for help with his extradition case, Firtash and a lawyer for Parnas told the New York Times. Parnas said he met with Firtash at Giuliani’s direction, which Giuliani denied.
Giuliani again denied misleading CNN when asked why he said he never thought Firtash might have useful information for him.
“I didn’t mislead you, I told you my state of mind at the time and I was making clear I never met him,” he said. “Figure it out for yourself and what does it matter. No matter what I tell you you will make it somehow suspicious. This is a waste of time for me.”