A Ukrainian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin paid most of the travel expenses for Rudy Giuliani as he scoured the country for damaging information against Joe Biden.
A New York Times review of documents, text messages and interviews found a company owned by Dmitry Firtash paid tens of thousands of dollars for Giuliani's travel to Ukraine in summer 2019, including luxury hotel stays and private jet flights, and although the payments don't appear to break any laws they show his ties to the oligarch were much closer than was publicly known.
“Rudy Giuliani had no idea that Firtash was paying for those trips,” said Giuliani's attorney, Robert Costello. "He certainly would not have allowed it if he had known.”
Firtash was charged in the U.S. in 2013 with conspiring to bribe officials in India, and Giuliani briefly considered representing him in his extradition case, and the energy magnate's attorney insisted he never spoke to the former New York City mayor, who was Donald Trump's attorney at the time of his Ukraine trip.
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“As far as Mr. Firtash knew, he never paid for or authorized any funds to be paid for Giuliani,” said attorney Lanny Davis.
Davis blamed the payments on “an inadvertent error” by an administrative assistant who may not have noticed Giuliani's expenses and paid them without Firtash knowing.
Firtash had publicly attacked Biden's policies toward Ukraine, which Giuliani appears to have noticed as he looked for damaging information about Trump's challenger, and he began contacting the oligarch's lawyers in June 2019, around the same time Trump was pressuring Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the former vice president and his family.
That scheme eventually got Trump impeached for the first time, although the Republican-led Senate acquitted him.