The FBI warned Rudy Giuliani in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian campaign to interfere in the November presidential election, according to a report.
Multiple current and former US officials told the Washington Post Giuliani was warned about Russia’s attempts to potentially use him to push false claims to smear Joe Biden during the White House race.
At the time, Giuliani was a key figure in Trump’s reelection campaign and was seeking to unearth damaging information about Biden and his son Hunter over their dealings in Ukraine.
But, despite the warning, Giuliani plowed ahead with a trip to Ukraine that December where he met with a Ukrainian lawmaker who the US government later said was ‘an active Russian agent’ who had ran an ‘influence campaign’ to sway the outcome of the election.
The claims come one day after Giuliani’s Manhattan home was raided by federal agents as part of an ongoing investigation into his dealings in Ukraine. Giuliani’s 2019 warning over Russia is completely separate to the investigation that saw his home raided, the Post reported.
The FBI warned Rudy Giuliani (above) back in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian campaign to interfere in the November presidential election, according to a report
The former New York City mayor and then-personal attorney to Donald Trump received the defensive briefing from counterintelligence agents, said the insiders, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Such briefings are given to warn people they are being targeted by foreign governments or ‘to see how they respond to that,’ Frank Figliuzzi, a former senior FBI counterintelligence official, told the Post.
Then-national security adviser Robert O’Brien also warned Trump around that time that Giuliani was a target of a Russian influence campaign and that he had been communicating with people tied to Russia’s intelligence agency.
He told the then-president to expect information from Giuliani to have been tainted by Moscow.
Giuliani’s response was apparently to ignore the concerns and he flew out to Ukraine that December to meet Andriy Derkach, along with a crew from pro-Trump news outlet One America News (OAN).
The trip was organized with the help of former diplomat Andriy Telizhenko, who Giuliani also met with on multiple occasions leading up to the election, the Post reported.
Giuliani then met with Derkach another time last February for a podcast where Derkach pushed false claims that billions in US aid to Ukraine went missing while Biden was in charge of US’s dealings with the country as VP.
In September, the Trump administration sanctioned Derkach and accused him of having been an active Russian agent for more than a decade and of maintaining ‘close connections with Russian intelligence services.’
In January, Telizhenko was also sanctioned for trying to influence the 2020 election – which he denies.
Last month, a declassified intelligence report concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia authorized a campaign to try to damage Biden’s chances of winning the 2020 elections.
The claims come one day after Giuliani’s Manhattan home was raided by federal agents as part of an ongoing investigation into his dealings in Ukraine
The raid is part of an investigation into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine and into whether he violated federal lobbying laws
The report also said that Russia tried to ‘launder’ its efforts through people close to Trump.
It did not name the Trump allies involved but sources said at the time that Giuliani was one of them.
It named Derkach as one of the people working with Russia ‘to use prominent U.S. persons and media conduits to launder their narratives to U.S. officials and audiences.’
Derkach has denied being involved with a foreign intelligence agency.
Giuliani’s lawyer Robert J. Costello did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment but has previously said Giuliani did not rely on Derkach for information.
Giuliani’s home and office in the Upper East Side of Manhattan was raided Wednesday by federal agents and his electronic devices including computers and cellphones were seized.
It is part of an investigation into Giuliani’s dealings with Ukraine and into whether he violated federal lobbying laws.
The search warrants included an allegation that Giuliani failed to register as a foreign agent, a violation of lobbying laws.
In the run-up to the election, Giuliani allegedly dug for dirt on the Joe and Hunter Biden – including Hunter’s ties to Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma, to try and help Trump politically.
Rudy Giuliani’s apartment building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
Rudy Giuliani’s Park Avenue office was also raided by federal investigators
No damaging information ever came to light, neither Biden has been charged with a crime and Hunter stepped down from Burisma’s board during the 2020 election.
Hunter is under a separate investigation over his taxes.
Giuliani, once celebrated for his leadership after 9/11, has been under federal scrutiny for several years over his ties to Ukraine.
Wednesday’s searches sent the strongest signal yet that he could eventually face federal charges.
Giuliani has denied any wrongdoing.
He told Fox News Thursday the search warrant was ‘illegal’ and ‘unconstitutional’, claiming that he had offered to hand over his electronic devices willingly for the past two years, and insisting that he had never worked for a foreign national.
His lawyer Robert Costello said the warrants involved an allegation that Giuliani failed to register as a foreign agent and that investigative documents mentioned John Solomon, a frequent Fox News commentator with close ties to Giuliani.
Sources said Giuliani was warned about Russia’s attempts to potentially use him to push false claims to smear Joe Biden during the White House race. At the time, Giuliani was seeking to dig dirty about Biden and his son Hunter (pictured together) over their dealings in Ukraine
Solomon pushed baseless or unsubstantiated allegations involving Ukraine and Biden during the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, Senator Ron Johnson, pro-Trump news outlet OAN and other unnamed members of congress also received warnings about being used as part of a Russian smear campaign, the Post reported.
Johnson spearheaded one of the committees investigating Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s dealings in Ukraine in the run-up to the election, focusing on the younger Biden’s role at Ukrainian firm Burisma and if it had led to a conflict of interest for his father when he was vice president to Barack Obama.
During the committee probe, Johnson made no secret of his political motive saying the committee report would prove Biden’s ‘unfitness for office.’
The investigation ultimately found no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by Biden.
Rudy Giuliani on Thursday night appeared on Fox News to discuss the raid on his home
Johnson confirmed to the Washington Post he had received a ‘vague warning from FBI briefers last August’ but suggested the warning was part of a plan to ‘to falsely accuse me of being a tool of Russia despite warnings’ down the line.
‘Regarding reports that I received an FBI briefing warning me that I was a target of Russian disinformation, I can confirm I received such a briefing in August of 2020,’ he said.
Johnson said the FBI provided no substance to back up the warning.
‘I asked the briefers what specific evidence they had regarding this warning, and they could not provide me anything other than the generalized warning. Without specific information, I felt the briefing was completely useless and unnecessary (since I was fully aware of the dangers of Russian disinformation).
‘Because there was no substance to the briefing, and because it followed the production and leaking of a false intelligence product by Democrat leaders, I suspected that the briefing was being given to be used at some future date for the purpose that it is now being used: to offer the biased media an opportunity to falsely accuse me of being a tool of Russia despite warnings.’