Exclusive audiotape recording of a July 2019 phone call acquired by CNN revealed former United States President Donald Trump's then-lawyer, Rudy Giuliani pressured Ukrainian officials to participate in a smear campaign against 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The audio is said to be a phone call between Giuliani, U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's senior adviser Andriy Yermak. The recording is believed to be the precursor to the call between Trump and Zelenskiy which was the main focus of the former U.S. president's 2019 impeachment.
Giuliani could be heard telling the people in the call that he wanted Zelenskiy to appoint a prosecutor to investigate and dig up dirty secrets about Biden and conduct a smear campaign against the now-president of the United States.
Previously, Trump denied accusations that his administration pressured the Ukrainian government to find information he could use against Biden In December 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives, which was dominated by Democrats, voted to impeach Trump. He was then acquitted in 2020 by the then-Republican-dominated Senate.
Despite efforts to overturn the results of the vote and continuous denial that Biden won, Trump lost the election in 2020 and finally left office in January 2021, Reuters reported.
On Tuesday, Yermak said Ukraine has done everything it could to foster its relationship with the United States. He said the Ukrainian government avoided taking sides in U.S. domestic political squabbles.
In written comments, Yermak said they were successful in supporting their cooperation with the U.S. as they now have an unprecedented level of coordination with American administrations at all levels. On Monday, Ukrainian President Zelenskiy spoke with U.S. President Biden and was able to secure the White House invitation Yermak was trying to acquire previously.
The audio recording showed how Giuliani aggressively pushed Ukrainian officials to cooperate with the Trump administration in tarnishing Biden's image and campaign. The phone call also contrasted Trump's previous assertion there was no "quid pro quo" between his administration and the Ukrainian government.
Officials said the contents of the phone call was one of the first strategies Trump used to win the election by damaging Biden's image during the 2020 process. The Republican is also accused of soliciting foreign meddling, lying about voter fraud, trying to overturn election results, and inciting the Capitol siege that happened on January 6, CNN reported.
Previously, Giuliani said he had sufficient evidence there was tampering in the 2016 election by Ukrainian parties. He said the attempts looked into tarnishing the image of then-candidate Trump and Paul Manafort. Giuliani claimed George Soros was responsible for the activities.
"I got information from a reliable investigator, international investigator, that there was a certain amount of activity in Ukraine during the 2016 election.. to produce dirt on then-candidate Trump and Paul Manafort," the former mayor of New York City said. "Another one was involved with [George] Soros ... Soros apparently is behind a lot of this."
However, officials have yet to find evidence to support Giuliani's theories.