US officials warned the White House that Russian intelligence was using Rudy Giuliani to funnel disinformation to Trump

rudy giuliani
Former Mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani during the Conference In Support Of Freedom and Democracy In Iran on June 30, 2018 in Paris, France. The speakers declared their support for the Iranian peoples uprising and the democratic alternative, the National Council of Resistance of Iran and called on the international community to adopt a firm policy against the mullahs regime and stand by the arisen people of Iran.
  • US intelligence agencies cautioned the White House last year that Russian intelligence was using President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to funnel disinformation to Trump, The Washington Post reported.
  • National security adviser Robert O'Brien reportedly warned the president afterward to approach any information Giuliani conveyed to him with skepticism.
  • One source told The Post that the message to Trump was, "Do what you want to do, but your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine."
  • Giuliani has repeatedly pushed unfounded allegations that Joe Biden and his son Hunter have shady ties to corrupt Ukrainian interests.
  • He also met last year with a Ukrainian national who has since been sanctioned for acting as a Russian agent to dig up dirt on the Bidens.
  • Giuliani amplified the theory that the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 election — a claim that was widely debunked by US and western intelligence agencies as a Russian effort to distract from the Kremlin's role in meddling in the election by pinning the blame on Ukraine.
  • Most recently, Giuliani made headlines by being one of the sources of a dubious New York Post story purporting to feature "smoking-gun" emails about Hunter Biden's communications with a top executive at the Ukrainian company Burisma Holdings.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US intelligence agencies cautioned the White House last year that Russian intelligence operatives were targeting President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, as a way to push disinformation to the president, The Washington Post reported.

The paper cited four former officials familiar with the matter who said the warnings were based on several sources, including intercepted communications. The communications are said to have showed that Giuliani communicated with multiple people who had ties to Russian intelligence during a December 2019 trip to Ukraine. The former New York mayor made the trip as part of his effort to dig up dirt on the Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter, related to the latter's work for the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings.

The Post reported that the intercepted communications raised red flags with US officials who worried that Russian officials were using Giuliani as a conduit to feed disinformation to Trump. After the White House was warned about the possibility, the report said, national security adviser Robert O'Brien told the president that he should approach any information Giuliani gave him with caution.

One source told The Post that the message to Trump was, "Do what you want to do, but your friend Rudy has been worked by Russian assets in Ukraine." The warning was especially stark because officials wanted "to protect the president from coming out and saying something stupid," the paper reported. At the time, Trump was in the middle of being impeached for his efforts to force Ukraine to launch politically motivated investigations into the Bidens and Burisma.

Notably, The New York Times reported that in January, while Trump and Giuliani were pushing for the investigations, hackers associated with Russia's military intelligence agency successfully breached Burisma's servers.

And on Wednesday, The Times reported that US intelligence analysts learned last month that the Russians were planning to dump hacked and forged Burisma emails as an "October surprise" before the election. The New York Post's story had been published just hours before The Times reported the information.

Giuliani, for his part, met at least once during his 2019 Ukraine trip with Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian national who was sanctioned by the Treasury last month for acting as a Russian agent and spreading disinformation related to the 2020 US election. Giuliani's primary focus on the Bidens relates to Hunter Biden's work on the board of the Ukrainian natural-gas company Burisma Holdings and claims that the former vice president leveraged his official US position to protect his son.

Specifically, Trump, Giuliani, and the president's allies have pushed unfounded allegations that when Joe Biden was vice president, he orchestrated the firing of the Ukrainian prosecutor general in 2016 to shut down an investigation into Burisma while his son was affiliated with the company.

As Business Insider previously reported, there is no evidence that the allegations hold merit because Biden was representing the official position of the US, most of the Western world, and institutions like the IMF when he called for the ouster of the prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin. Moreover, Bloomberg reported that the investigation into Burisma was largely dormant when Shokin was fired.

And government officials and Ukrainian anticorruption advocates said Shokin had hampered the investigation into Burisma long before Biden even stepped into the picture, The Wall Street Journal reported. In other words, Biden was doing the opposite of what Trump and Giuliani have implied: He was trying to oust a prosecutor who was slow-walking the investigation into Burisma, rather than actively targeting the company.

Giuliani has also amplified a bogus conspiracy theory suggesting that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election. The claim has been widely debunked by US and other western intelligence agencies as part of a Russian effort to distract from the Kremlin's role in meddling in the race. The US intelligence community concluded with high confidence in January 2017 that Moscow interfered in the election to denigrate Hillary Clinton and propel Trump to the presidency.

That finding has been confirmed by the special counsel Robert Mueller and a bipartisan report from the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.

Most recently, Giuliani made headlines as one of the sources of a dubious and misleading New York Post story purporting to show "smoking-gun" emails of Hunter Biden communicating with a top executive at Burisma in 2014 and 2015, while he served on the board and his father was vice president.

The Post said it learned of the emails from former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon last month, and that Giuliani turned over a hard drive containing the emails on Sunday. Giuliani, in turn, is said to have obtained them after a computer-repair-shop owner in Delaware recovered it from a water-damaged laptop that was dropped off for repairs in April 2019 but never picked up.

The story featured a number of holes and red flags and was widely discredited as being part of Giuliani's efforts to damage Biden's candidacy weeks before the November election by raising the specter of corruption related to Ukraine and Burisma.

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