Giuliani is still pursuing conspiracy theories in Ukraine for Trump

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Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is still chasing conspiracy theories in Ukraine even as the House impeachment investigation moves forward.

Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's personal attorney, traveled to Hungary and Ukraine this week to meet with foreign officials in hopes of defending Trump against impeachment charges, the New York Times reported Wednesday. The trip took place at the same time the House Judiciary Committee held its first hearing about possible articles of impeachment against Trump.

Several of the officials Giuliani planned to meet with played major roles in the impeachment investigation.

According to the Times, some officials in the State Department found Giuliani's travel to Ukraine on the very day of impeachment hearings to be "shocking."

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While in Budapest on Tuesday, Giuliani interviewed Yuriy Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor who faces allegations of abusing his power. Lutsenko had a contentious relationship with former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and fed misinformation to Giuliani and the U.S. media, falsely accusing Yovanovitch of demanding he not prosecute certain companies, according to a recent report in the New York Times. The Times noted Lutsenko was fired from his post in August and moved to London, and he is currently under criminal investigation in Ukraine.

Giuliani's role in helping to remove Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine was a key tenet in the impeachment investigation that looked into how Giuliani ran a shadow foreign policy outside of official U.S. channels.

The Times reported Giuliani traveled to Kyiv on Wednesday to interview Viktor Shokin. Shokin, also a former Ukrainian prosecutor with a history of corruption, played a key role in events surrounding the impeachment inquiry as well.

Shokin was ousted from his position in 2016 amidst allegations of corruption, the Times reported. Former Vice President Joe Biden encouraged Shokin's ouster on behalf of the Obama administration, an act Republicans now allege helped Biden's son, Hunter, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. There is no evidence to suggest Biden's actions helped his son.

Nonetheless, Trump requested Ukraine announce an investigation into the 2016 episode during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. At the time of Trump's request, Biden was the fron-runner to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020. The investigation request is viewed by Democrats and legal scholars as an attempt by Trump to solicit assistance in the 2020 election. Soliciting election assistance from foreign nationals is illegal.

Giuliani also hoped to interview other former Ukrainian officials described by the Times as supportive of Trump. He is in Europe as part of a "documentary series" for One America News Network, a far-right outlet Trump sometimes favors when he feels Fox News is being disloyal.

Giuliani defended his current travel to Ukraine in the midst of impeachment hearings centered on his activities in the Ukraine, telling the Times, "like a good lawyer, I am gathering evidence to defend my client against the false charges being leveled against him" by Democrats and the media. But, although he is not paid, Giuliani is Trump's personal attorney. The current impeachment proceedings deal with Trump's actions in his official capacity, and White House attorneys, not Giuliani, are taking the lead in responding to official impeachment matters, such as the recent decision to refuse participation in Wednesday's Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing.

And Giuliani faces his own legal problems related to his actions around Ukraine. According to Bloomberg, Giuliani is under investigation for alleged campaign finance violations, a failure to register as a foreign agent, and possibly for bribing foreign officials. The allegations may or may not be related to an investigation by federal prosecutors looking into Giuliani's involvement in Yovanovitch's removal from her post.

Two close associates of Giuliani, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested in October as they tried to leave the country with one-way plane tickets. The two men, who worked with Giuliani on Ukrainian matters, are accused of trying to "circumvent the federal laws against foreign interference by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office."

Now, Giuliani is back in Europe seeking to undermine evidence discovered during the House impeachment investigation. Through multiple hearings — both public and private — congressional investigators looked into Trump administration efforts to pressure Ukrainian leaders to launch investigations into both Biden and a conspiracy theory related to the Democratic National Committee.

The investigation uncovered "a months-long effort in which President Trump again sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote to his colleagues.

Many of the facts uncovered were corroborated by Trump administration officials.

On Thursday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked committee chairs to draw up articles of impeachment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.