Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden pays for his order at a Krispy Kreme following a campaign town hall on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, in Spartanburg, S.C. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Former VP Joe Biden’s attempts to have news outlets ban Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani from appearing on their networks is starting to come into focus.
Details of a January interview Giuliani had with fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin — who it has been alleged was fired after Biden pressured Ukraine due to Shokin’s investigation into Burisma Holdings, LLC, where Biden’s son sat on the board — were given to Congress by the State Department’s Inspector General and made available to Fox News Wednesday.
They confirm that Shokin told Giuliani he was fired after pressure from Biden, and that his “investigations stopped out of fear of the United States.”
“Mr. Shokin attempted to continue the investigations but on or around June or July of 2015, the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt told him that the investigation has to be handled with white gloves, which according to Mr. Shokin, that implied do nothing,” the notes from the interview stated. The notes also claimed Shokin was told Biden had held up U.S. aid to Ukraine over the investigation.
Shokin was fired in April 2016, and his case was “closed by the current Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko,” according to the notes. Despite his claims, Shokin, on both sides of the Atlantic, had been widely accused of corruption.
Shokin’s termination has become a lightening rod after it was mentioned on a phone call between Trump and new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That conversation led to a whistleblower report and allegations that Trump was trying to use government resources and his own private attorneys to dig up dirt on his political opponent Biden, who is a candidate in the 2020 presidential election.
Despite a video from 2018 in which Biden himself seems to acknowledge that he pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin — and that he threatened to withhold aid to the nation if they failed to carry out the termination — the former vice president has said his only concern was what he felt was Shokin’s role in Ukrainian corruption, not Burisma where his son had business ties.
Details of the interview, which occurred over the phone with translators, were handed off to Fox News by sources after an urgent briefing Wednesday by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
Linick gave a closed-door briefing on Ukraine to aides from the Senate committees on Intelligence, Foreign Relations, Appropriations and Homeland Security, as well as aides from the House committees on Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Appropriations and Oversight. The briefing lasted over an hour and took place in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon.
Linick shared a file with those who attended the briefing, containing multiple folders with the Trump Hotel logo on them. Inside the folders were notes from an interview conducted by Giuliani in January 2019 with Shokin, as well as Lutsenko. Another folder contained news clips, as well as several timelines about investigations related to Burisma.
A State Department spokesman on Wednesday confirmed to Fox News that the “relevant” materials Linick shared with Congress “were provided by the Department to the Inspector General on May 3, 2019 for his review and for such action as the Inspector General deemed appropriate.”
Giuliani, in a statement to Fox News, said the interview occurred before Biden announced his presidential run, and that he had shared them with the State Department and was disappointed there had been no investigation into the matter.
The September phone call in which Trump raised the issue of Shokin’s firing has led to the current push for an impeachment inquiry and Democrats demands for forthcoming hearings to determine if Trump tried to use his political influence to pressure Ukraine to find opposition research on Biden before the 2020 election.