Moscow (CNSNews.com) – Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Sunday that Rudolph Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, never pressed him over former Vice President Joe Biden’s son and Ukraine’s corruption investigation into Burisma Holdings.
Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Poroshenko said that Giuliani had “definitely not” asked him about Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine or the probe into Burisma, a natural gas company.
“Look, I am the president of Ukraine, the great European country, the largest European country, with the largest territory in Europe,” he said. “And, of course, I can’t imagine such type of talks with me as a president of Ukraine.”
Poroshenko, president from 2014 until May of this year, said he had met with Giuliani just twice, most recently in late 2017. The former president said that last conversation with Giuliani centered around how to strengthen relations between Washington and Kyiv.
“We talked about solidarity, the growth of American support for reform [in Ukraine], support for the [Ukrainian] financial sector and security,” he said. “And Giuliani promised me to increase our cooperation.”
Poroshenko insisted he had not spoken with Giuliani “either personally or by telephone” since then.
He also contended that the political firestorm over “Ukrainegate” – allegations that Trump abused his position by pressuring Ukraine to investigate s political rival (Joe Biden) – benefits Russian President Vladimir Putin – by distracting Washington from Moscow’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“Who is interested in not seeing Ukraine as an object of Russian aggression, which led to the imposition of sanctions against Russia until it leaves Ukrainian territory?” he said. “Now our attention is being shifted toward the so-called ‘Ukrainegate.’ Who is interested in this? Ukraine? Definitely not. The United States? Definitely not. There's only one person – the one sitting in Russia.”
Poroshenko’s remarks come as Senate Republicans open an investigation into whether Biden as vice president sought to disrupt a corruption probe targeting Burisma by pressuring Ukraine’s government into firing its prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. Hunter Biden was at the time on the board of Burisma.
On November 21, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting records of Biden’s phone calls with Poroshenko.
The letter said Biden had four phone conversations with Poroshenko between the time the authorities seized property from Burisma’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, on February 4, 2016, and Shokin’s dismissal on March 29 of that year.
Zlochevsky and his business have been under investigation by the prosecutor general’s office since 2014, over accusations of money laundering, embezzlement, and tax evasion. That same year, Hunter Biden joined the board of directors.
During a January 2018 event at the Council on Foreign Relations, Biden recalled that, during a December 2015 visit to Ukraine, he had succeeded in getting Shokin fired by threatening to withhold a $1 billion U.S. loan.
“I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ I said, ‘you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours.’ I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’”
“Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time,” Biden added.
Earlier this month, Poroshenko told CNN that he had never discussed Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine with the former vice president.
But when asked whether he fired Shokin over the Burisma probe, Poroshenko declined to answer. “Poroshenko said he did not want to get involved in U.S. politics and said that all general prosecutors in his country should be completely independent,” CNN reported.