Federal prosecutors are looking into whether Ukrainian officials used Rudy Giuliani to spread misleading stories about Joe Biden as part of an effort to sway last year’s presidential election in former President Donald Trump’s favor, the New York Times reported Thursday, as Giuliani reportedly faces a separate investigation into his work in Ukraine.
The Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation last year into Ukrainian figures including former legislator Andrii Derkach, who allegedly tried to spread unproven corruption allegations about Biden, the Times reported, citing unnamed sources.
Derkach released edited tapes of phone calls between Biden and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last year, met with Giuliani when he was looking for dirt on Biden in late 2019, and reportedly sent anti-Biden information packets to several members of Congress in the runup to Trump’s first impeachment two years ago.
The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Derkach — whom it characterized as an “active Russian agent” — last year, claiming the Biden-Poroshenko tapes were part of a covert effort to damage Biden’s electoral prospects by denting his credibility.
The DOJ still hasn’t charged anyone with a crime or made any formal accusations (the department did not respond to a request for comment from Forbes).
Giuliani is not a subject of the investigation into the alleged Ukrainian influence campaign, the Times reported, but Giuliani is facing a federal probe of his own. Federal investigators are reportedly looking into whether he illegally lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian oligarchs. Last month, investigators searched Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and took several electronic devices.
Derkach’s interest in Biden appeared to pick up steam in late 2019, as the House of Representatives prepared to impeach Trump for allegedly trying to strongarm Ukrainian officials into launching a public investigation into Biden. At around the same time, Giuliani and other Trump allies heavily promoted a dubious and unsubstantiated counter-narrative that Biden, not Trump, was guilty of abusing his power in Ukraine. They claimed Biden, while serving as vice president, pressured the Ukrainian government into ousting a prosecutor who threatened the business interests of Hunter Biden, his son (in reality, it’s widely believed the prosecutor was fired for failing to investigate corruption, and it’s unclear whether Hunter Biden’s Ukraine-based employer was under active investigation at the time).