- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Rudolph W. Giuliani has been barnstorming TV and social media in recent weeks trying to sell his findings that the Bidens are corrupt and Ukraine interfered on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

He stocks a website with podcast updates and tweets various allegations, such as on Monday: “The Biden Family Enterprise has been selling his office for years. The corrupt media has been covering up. It was handed to me and I had the courage to reveal it knowing the Swamp would try to destroy me. I served my country. They are betraying it. I will not stop.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is raising a caution flag. He says there’s a chance Mr. Giuliani is being played by the Russians in the same way they manipulated Christopher Steele. The ex-British intelligence officer wrote a Democratic Party-financed dossier filled with bogus allegations from the Kremlin against candidate Donald Trump that reached the FBI’s hierarchy.

But Mr. Graham, South Carolina Republican, says the actions of presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine need scrutiny.

“I just think the media is so in the tank over this issue” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “It makes me sick to my stomach.”

The former vice president Monday repeated that his son did nothing wrong and labeled Mr. Giuliani, President Trump’s lawyer, a “thug.”

Besides social media, Mr. Giuliani has appeared on One America News (ONA) alongside a cast of witnesses who he says bolsters his Ukraine investigation. Over the weekend, he made two appearances on Fox News.

Laura Ingraham, host of Fox’s “The Ingraham Angle,” has touted one of Mr. Giuliani’s witnesses, Andrii Telizhenko, to talk about a Jan. 19, 2016, meeting at the Obama White House among National Security Council staffers and Ukrainian Embassy staff and prosecutors.

Mr. Telizhenko, then a member of the Ukrainian Embassy staff, is listed in the official visitors’ log. He says the Bidens’ names were brought up by NSC staff in discussing Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas firm owned by Mykola Zlochevsky.

A month before the White House-Ukraine meeting, the elder Biden, as the Obama administration’s point-man on Ukraine, had traveled to the country and demanded the regime fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. Mr. Biden later bragged that he told Ukrainian officials either fire Mr. Shokin or lose $1 billion in U.S. aid.

Here lies the rub. Mr. Biden said he made the demand as part of an overall anti-corruption campaign in a country bedeviled by bribes, kickbacks and money laundering. Mr. Giuliani says Mr. Biden laid down the edict to protect his son, and he cites Mr. Shokin as his witness.

Shortly after the Obama White House named Mr. Biden as overseer of Ukraine policy Hunter Biden landed a lucrative spot on Burisma’s board in April 2014. In the ensuring years, Burisma transferred more than $3 million into Hunter Biden’s investment firm, according to court records reviewed by author Peter Schweizer.

Mr. Giuliani brands the Hunter Biden financial arrangement as corrupt. He claims a document he displayed on Fox shows Burisma was laundering money from Kyiv to Latvia to Cyprus.

Mr. Telizhenko, now a political consultant, told Ms. Ingraham that the Jan. 19, 2016, White House meeting involved “people from Biden’s team.” He said he was told by embassy staff to cooperate with the Democratic National Committee to find dirt on the Trump campaign, which he says he refused.

One of Mr. Telizhenko’s first media appearances as a pro-Trump whistleblower occurred in January 2017 in a Politico article that exposed Ukraine’s pro-Hillary Clinton bent. The headline: “Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire.”

Conservatives point to the article as proof of Ukrainian interference. They say that once the former vice president announced he was running for president last year, liberal media interest in the story waned.

‘Questions need to be asked’

The Politico story said: “Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.”

Republicans contend that one product of a Ukraine anti-Trump campaign was the so-called “black ledger” in an August 2016 New York Times story.

The ledger (actually one page from a purported ledger) was handled at some point by a member of Ukraine’s parliament. It supposedly shows secret cash transactions from the pro-Russia Party of Regions to Paul Manafort, a political consultant who became Trump campaign manager. The news story forced Manafort’s ouster.

Manafort claims the ledger is fake and there is evidence to back him up. The FBI showed what was supposed to be Manafort’s signature to his associates. They said the signature was forged. Special counsel Robert Mueller never verified the document.

As for Mr. Shokin, he filed an affidavit on behalf of Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian businessman living in Austria and facing extradition on federal criminal charges in Chicago. Mr. Shokin provided his version of his firing by then-President Petro Poroshenko.

“Poroshenko asked me to resign due to pressure from the U.S. presidential administration, in particular from Joe Biden, who was the U.S. vice president,” Mr. Shokin’s said in his affidavit, which was posted online by investigative reporter John Solomon. “The truth is that I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into Burisma Holdings, a natural gas firm active in Ukraine and Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a member of the Board of Directors.”

The probe into Burisma ended in 2016, according to House testimony in the Trump impeachment inquiry.

On “Face the Nation,” Mr. Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, made several new disclosures.

Once committed to investigating the Bidens, he now says the matter is better suited to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Chairman Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican. Mr. Graham said he didn’t want to end up like Mr. Steele spreading Russia disinformation.

He said he also spoke Sunday with Attorney General William Barr, who agreed that the Justice Department would review Mr. Giuliani’s evidence.

“They told me take very cautiously anything coming out of the Ukraine against anybody,” Mr. Graham said. “Rudy says he’s got the goods. All I can tell Rudy and anybody else, if you got some information connected to the Ukraine against anybody, go to the Intel Committee, not me. If Rudy Giuliani has any information coming out of the Ukraine, he needs to turn over the Department of Justice, because it could be Russian propaganda.”

He said a genuine issue is how did Hunter Biden win a spot on the Burisma board just as his father was appointed Ukraine envoy.

“I think questions about the conflict of interest regarding Hunter Biden in the Ukraine need to be asked,” Mr. Graham said. “The State Department had warnings, and they ignored the conflict of interest. And we’re to make sure that Hunter Biden’s conflict of interest is explored, because it’s legitimate. How could Joe Biden really fight corruption when his son is sitting on the Burisma board?”

Mr. Graham also said there is no question Ukraine interfered in the election.

“There are people in the Ukraine that were pulling against Trump because they hated Manafort,” he said. “To suggest there was no political interference coming out of the Ukraine directed toward the president, I think, would not withstand scrutiny.”

The former vice president has steadfastly defended his son, saying he did nothing wrong and the two didn’t discuss Burisma business.

“I don’t think our sons are fair game at all,” Mr. Biden told CBS News on Monday. “No one has said he’s done anything wrong except a thug, Rudy Giuliani.”

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