Rudy Giuliani repeatedly pressured an advisor to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to open an investigation into Joe Biden during a 2019 phone call, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.
During the call, conducted between Giuliani, then-Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker, and Ukraine government official Andriy Yermak, Giuliani presses for an investigation into then-Democratic front-runner Joe Biden. The partial recording released by CNN does not completely match up with a partial transcript of the call published by Buzzfeed News in April 2021. That partial transcript was reportedly produced by Ukrainian officials.
“All we need from the President is to say, ‘I’m going to put an honest prosecutor in charge, he’s going to investigate, and dig up the evidence that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out.’ I don’t know if it’s true or not. I mean, I see him bragging about it on television. And to me as a lawyer, that sounds like a bribe. Someone in Ukraine has got to take that seriously,” Giuliani says in the partially released CNN recording.
Exclusive audio obtained by CNN shows how former Pres. Trump’s longtime adviser Rudy Giuliani relentlessly pressured and coaxed the Ukrainian government in 2019 to investigate baseless conspiracies about then-candidate Joe Biden. @mchancecnn reports. https://t.co/BGXIngcuE5 pic.twitter.com/XF1jg3Mms7
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) June 7, 2021
In the Buzzfeed transcript, Giuliani reportedly says after the line, “that sounds like a bribe,” “A bribe is something of value in exchange for official action. So he [then-Vice President Joe Biden] offered [then-Ukraine President Petro] Poroshenko a $1.2 billion loan guarantee, critical to Poroshenko’s success as president, in exchange for getting rid of a prosecutor general, that he didn’t want to get rid of, which is official action. Somebody in Ukraine’s gotta take that seriously.”
“Instead of what [former Prosecutor General Yuri] Lutsenko did, which is he announced he was investigating it and then all of a sudden he announced was not investigating it. So that investigation of Burisma has been started, discontinued … started and discontinued about three times.”
Lutsenko replaced Viktor Shokin, who was removed by the Ukrainian Parliament in March 2016. Biden had previously pressed Poroshenko to fire Shokin. The U.S. and European countries were frustrated that Shokin appeared to be hindering corruption investigations.
CNN released the full recording of the phone call on Tuesday.
“And we’ll be ready this day, immediately communicated, to coordinate, to work and investigate everything that you listed,” Yermak reportedly responded.
Giuliani then reportedly requested an official announcement from Zelensky.
“If he could make some statement at the right time, that he supports a fair, honest law enforcement system and that these investigations go wherever they have to go, gonna be run by honest people, that would clear the air really well.”
“I think, for me to talk to the president [Trump] to see what I can do about making sure that whatever misunderstandings are put aside. And maybe even, I kind of think that this could be a good thing for having a much better relationship, where we really understand each other.”
Former EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified to Congress in November 2019 that he told Yermak that he believed the “resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.” (RELATED: Diplomats’ Texts Show Trump Wanted To Leverage Ukraine’s President To Open Biden-Linked Investigation)
Giuliani is currently under investigation for a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act in connection with his activities in Ukraine, which consisted of a personal investigation into Hunter Biden’s activities during his time as a board member of the Burisma Holdings energy company. Federal agents seized electronic devices from Giuliani’s New York home in April.
Federal agents are currently investigating alleged tax violations committed by Hunter Biden in connection with his foreign business deals. The Department of Justice is also investigating Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying firm that represented Burisma during Hunter Biden’s time as a board member.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect new information CNN released Tuesday.