The effort to get Ukraine to announce investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and Biden’s son Hunter Biden was reportedly happening as early as February. Rudy Giuliani’s indicted Ukrainian-Floridian clients Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were working behind the scenes to convince Ukraine’s previous president to announce such probes, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the current Ukrainian president who Trump asked to investigate the Bidens in a July 25 phone call, was sworn in back in May 2019. It was previously reported that Parnas and Fruman were instrumental in Giuliani’s efforts to convince the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens, but those efforts reportedly also happened in the latter days of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s administration — when Poroshenko was in need of an electability boost.
Per WSJ, Parnas and Fruman “urged” Poroshenko to make the announcement “in exchange for a state visit to Washington” at a crucial time for the incumbent:
Months before President Trump pressed Ukraine’s newly installed president to investigate Joe Biden’s son and alleged 2016 U.S. election interference, two associates of Rudy Giuliani urged Ukraine’s prior president to announce similar probes in exchange for a state visit to Washington, according to people familiar with the matter.
A late February meeting in Kyiv between Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took place at the offices of Ukrainian general prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko, the people said. It came soon after Messrs. Parnas and Fruman met with Mr. Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, and Mr. Lutsenko in New York in late January and again in Warsaw in mid-February, Mr. Giuliani has said.
Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General, Yuri Lutensko, was also present at the February meeting. Lutensko previously said that “From the perspective of Ukrainian legislation” Hunter Biden “did not violate anything.”
The meeting did not result in a White House visit for Poroshenko and Poroshenko never announced such investigations. It was suggested the requests of Poroshenko were made with the knowledge that his reelection efforts needed the boost a White House would provide. Again, WSJ:
In February, Mr. Poroshenko was anxious to engage with Mr. Trump as he tried to boost his poll numbers before the presidential elections in Ukraine in the following weeks, another person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Poroshenko was angling for a high-profile visit to Washington in April, the person said, which would have been after the first round of voting in late March, but before the runoff vote on April 21.
“He needed a Hail Mary and a state visit in Washington and was ready to become Trump’s best friend in order to secure support,” the person said.