NEW YORK – Rudy Giuliani’s interest in Ukraine was about more than just dirt on Democrats.
The former New York City mayor pursued a lucrative business deal with Ukraine’s former top prosecutor while pushing officials in the country to launch investigations into President Donald Trump’s political rivals, an attorney for Giuliani told the New York Daily News on Wednesday.
Robert Costello, who represents Giuliani on matters relating to a federal investigation in New York and the House impeachment inquiry, said his client was in talks early this year to perform legal services for former Ukrainian prosecutor general Yuriy Lutsenko and the country’s justice ministry.
Under the proposed contract, which was worth as much as $300,000, Giuliani would represent Lutsenko and the ministry in a U.S. civil case relating to the country’s efforts to recover cash allegedly embezzled by former Kyiv officials, Costello said.
However, Giuliani ultimately “turned down” the contract because of the “bad appearance,” Costello said.
“Mr. Giuliani considered it but then declined to be involved because it would be interpreted as Giuliani trying to make money off his relationship with the president,” Costello told the Daily News.
Giuliani’s Ukraine business pursuits were first reported by The New York Times.
At the same time he was in talks to get paid by Lutsenko, Giuliani was deeply involved in efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials into committing to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s family and debunked right-wing claims about the 2016 election.
Giuliani has said he undertook those dirt-digging efforts in his capacity as Trump’s personal lawyer.
While he was apparently concerned about the bad optics of representing Lutsenko, Giuliani had no problem relying heavily on the Ukrainian prosecutor as part of his Trump-endorsed hunt for dirt on Democrats.
Lutsenko, for instance, helped Giuliani push for the ouster of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch after she spoke out against Trump’s shadow policy in Ukraine, according to several impeachment witnesses.
Giuliani has also acknowledged that Lutsenko fed him information on Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter once sat.
A package of documents Giuliani gave the State Department in March summarizing his self-styled Ukraine foray included notes from an interview he conducted with Lutsenko.
The reliance on Lutsenko as a source for U.S. policy outraged career officials in the State Department, according to impeachment testimony.
George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs, testified publicly earlier this month that Lutsenko was seen as corrupt and that the smear he and Giuliani perpetuated against Yovanovitch amounted to “a campaign of lies.”