Surprise. Surprise. It’s looking like the Democrats overreached considerably when they suggested President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani unethically or illegally reached out to Ukrainian officials to get dirt on Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
But the story they’ve helped unleash could end up making the Democratic Party look worse than ever, especially when it comes to the 2016 election.
The Hill’s John Solomon reported last week that Giuliani was not the initiator of contact with the Ukrainians, but rather he was asked by a senior official at the State Department to make the contact.
In August, Giuliani met with attorney Andrei Yermak, an adviser to recently sworn-in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in the neutral ground of Spain.
Giuliani confirmed to Solomon on Friday that the State Department asked him to take the Yermak meeting, and he kept U.S. officials appraised every step of the way, Solomon wrote.
“I didn’t even know who he [Yermak] really was, but they vouched for him. They actually urged me to talk to him because they said he seemed like an honest broker,” Giuliani told Solomon.
“I reported back to them [the two State officials] what my conversations with Yermak were about. All of this was done at the request of the State Department.”
Solomon recounted that Ukrainian officials told him that their government has been trying to “hand over evidence about the conduct of Americans they believe might be involved in violations of U.S. law during the Obama years.”
They even hired a retired U.S. attorney to deliver the information to the Justice Department, wrote Solomon, who noted that the retired U.S. attorney had confirmed the story.
The information involved efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 election and also related to business dealings of Vice President Joe Biden’s son Hunter, Solomon wrote.
And the allegations were explosive.
“The U.S. attorney, a respected American, confirmed the Ukrainians’ story to me,” Solomon wrote. “The allegations that Ukrainian officials wanted to pass on involved both efforts by the Democratic National Committee to pressure Ukraine to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election as well as Joe Biden’s son’s effort to make money in Ukraine while the former vice president managed U.S.-Ukraine relations, the retired U.S. attorney told me.”
Two weeks ago, Democrats on three committees in the House of Representatives announced they were probing Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraine officials, according to a report in The Hill from Sept. 9.
Since the story broke last week of a whistleblower claiming Trump had an inappropriate call with Zelensky involving Biden, the president has stated he did nothing wrong.
On Monday at the United Nations, Trump confirmed to reporters that the topic of Biden and his son did come up.
“We had a perfect phone call with the president of Ukraine,” he said. “Everybody knows it. It’s just a Democrat witch hunt. Here we go again. They failed with Russia, they failed with recession, they failed with everything.”
Asked how seriously he was taking Democratic calls for his impeachment, the president replied, “Not at all.”
“The one who’s got the problem is Biden,” Trump said. “Cause you look at what Biden did. Biden did what they would like to have me do except for one problem. I didn’t do it. What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace.”
He further defended his questioning about the Bidens, saying the U.S. is supporting Ukraine and “we want to make sure that country is honest.”
“If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country you think is corrupt?” Trump asked.
The “corruption” the president was discussing involves a trip Joe Biden took to Ukraine in March 2016, while still vice president.
While there, he demanded that then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin or not receive $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees.
According to a Solomon report in April, “The prosecutor [Biden] got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.”
So all the frenzied reporting suggesting Trump committed an impeachable offense — with Giuliani as an accomplice — looks to be in error.
On Friday, Trump encouraged White House reporters: “Keep asking questions and build it up as big as possible, so you can have a bigger downfall.”
The Trump-Ukraine collusion story appears to be the latest attempt to smear the president and his attorney, and if reports like this keep coming, it looks destined to fail, too.
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