Yuri Lutsenko, the Ukraine ex-prosecutor general, said he told President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani they had not broken any Ukrainian laws to his knowledge. He said he would start a probe only after U.S. officials launched an investigation.
“I said, ‘Let’s put this through prosecutors, not through presidents,’” Lutsenko told The Times. “I told him I could not start an investigation just for the interests of an American official.”
Trump pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and son Hunter, who served on the board of an energy company in Ukraine. That July 25 phone call was the focus of a whistleblower complaint that triggered the House Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry.
Hunter Biden served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma at the same time as his father was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Trump also has claimed that Joe Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to shut down a corruption investigation of Burisma. The former vice president has denied doing anything wrong.
In the July call, Zelensky appeared to make an effort to stay in Trump’s good graces, telling him at least twice that he was “absolutely right.” But, after the White House released a rough transcript this week based on officials’ recollections of the call, Zelensky told reporters he didn’t feel pushed, emphasizing that “no one can pressure me.” He also sought to play down the situation involving Biden and his son’s activities in Ukraine, calling it just one of “many cases that I talk about with leaders of other countries.”
Zelensky was elected in a landslide this past April on promises to uproot the country’s endemic corruption and end fighting with Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east.
Lutsenko added about Giuliani: “I had to tell him how law enforcement functions here.” He said that he could not reopen the case just because Trump wanted it.
“My role is very, very simple. I’m a lawyer defending a client,” Giuliani told host Maria Bartiromo on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” stating that he was exploring a lead on information that he claimed not only could vindicate Trump regarding claims that he colluded with Russia in the 2016 election, but that could show that it was Democrats who colluded with Ukraine to hurt Trump’s campaign.
Giuliani stated that so far House Democrats have not subpoenaed him to testify about his work with Ukraine, but if they did he would have to run it by Trump first.
“I’m his attorney, there’s something called attorney-client privilege,” he said. “That has to be considered even if they don’t think he should have attorney-client privilege.”
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.