Several senior national security officials were so concerned that President Trump would push Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to give him damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, that they tried to keep the pair from meeting or having a phone conversation, several current and former U.S. officials told The Washington Post on Tuesday.
The officials said that Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, became extremely interested in Ukraine earlier this year, and top National Security Council officials were worried he would urge Trump to use U.S. leverage in order to get Zelensky to bend. Giuliani appeared to have some sort of hidden agenda when it came to Ukraine, several officials told the Post, and he worked to have the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine removed and sidelined national security officials. In May, he announced he was heading to Ukraine to start "meddling in an investigation" that could be "very, very helpful" to Trump, but he canceled after bizarrely claiming he had been "set up."
Giuliani's attention turned to Ukraine after former Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the officials told the Post. He started focusing on removing personnel from the embassy and sent people over on his behalf to set up meetings with Zelensky aides. The officials think he tried to get close to Zelensky for two reasons: he wanted to get back at anyone involved with exposing former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's corrupt business tactics in Ukraine, and he also was looking for dirt on the Bidens.
"Rudy — he did all of this," one U.S. official told the Post. "This s---tshow that we're in — it's him injecting himself into the process." For more on Giuliani's Ukraine obsession, his shadow agenda, and how he ticked off people like former National Security Advisor John Bolton, visit The Washington Post.Catherine Garcia