U.S. Ambassador Roped Into Rudy Giuliani’s Quest to Smear Biden

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Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with officials at the State Department as part of his controversial efforts to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine are more extensive than have been publicly reported. And they raise additional questions about the degree to which senior officials throughout the Trump administration were involved in—or privy to—attempts by the president to muddy a top potential political opponent. 

Over the course of the past year, Giuliani has participated in a far-flung campaign by Trump allies to unearth damaging information about Biden and his son Hunter. As part of that effort, Giuliani pressed the Ukrainian government to investigate so far unfounded allegations of corruption in the country involving the Bidens. At the time, Hunter Biden was accused of using his father’s political standing to secure lucrative business opportunities abroad. Ukraine’s prosecutor general would subsequently say he had no evidence of any wrongdoing.

This summer, Giuliani briefed U.S. diplomats, including special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, on his work in Ukraine and his efforts to convince the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens. But Giuliani confirmed to The Daily Beast that he also briefed another diplomat: U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. President Trump’s lawyer said he briefed both Volker (whom he referred to as the “main one” in terms of his State contacts) and Sondland on multiple conference calls earlier this year about his progress in pursuing a Ukraine investigation.

It wasn’t exactly an unknown topic for Sondland. The ambassador was also closely involved with the Trump phone call to Zelensky in which Trump repeatedly pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate the Bidens.

“I spoke with both of them before and after this conversation,” Sondland told Ukraine’s state-run news agency after the phone call. “The conversation was very successful. They found a common language immediately.” The two leaders discussed Ukraine’s war, energy security, and “the rule of law,” Sondland said in July.

That same day, Zelensky met with both Sondland and Volker to discuss Ukraine’s war with pro-Russian rebels. It was a particularly poignant topic at the time; the U.S. was holding back on nearly $400 million worth of equipment promised to Kyiv to deter Moscow and its allies.