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Biden and Putin to speak on Thursday amid Ukraine tensions

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON/REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak on Thursday, the White House said, as Washington crafts a common response to Russia's military build-up on the Ukraine border with European allies.

The two leaders will discuss a range of topics, including upcoming security talks between the countries and a tense situation in Europe, White House National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters the call was planned for "late Thursday evening," without elaborating.

Horne said Biden had spoken with leaders across Europe about the situation on the Ukraine border, while Biden administration officials were in touch with NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Moscow has alarmed the West by massing tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine in the past two months, following its seizure of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and its backing of separatists fighting Kyiv troops in eastern Ukraine.

Russia denies planning to attack Ukraine and says it has the right to move its troops on its own soil as it likes.

Moscow, worried by what it says is the West's re-arming of Ukraine, has said it wants legally-binding guarantees NATO will not expand further eastwards, and that certain offensive weapons will not be deployed to Ukraine or other neighboring countries.

U.S. concerns have not ebbed in recent weeks, according to a senior Biden administration official. Other U.S. officials said that despite a report over the weekend that Russia would be pulling back about 10,000 troops from its border with Ukraine, they had seen little evidence to support that so far.

"We are at a moment of crisis and have been for some weeks now given the Russian build-up, and it will take a high level of engagement to address this and to find a path of de-escalation," said one of the officials, who declined to be named.

That person said Putin requested the call with Biden.

"When President Biden has asked to speak with President Putin over the course of 2021, President Putin has said, Yes, let's talk. And when President Putin says, I'm interested in touching base and having a phone call, President Biden says yes."

Biden is likely to reiterate during the call that the United States will take swift economic action against Russia in the case of an invasion. They will also reinforce the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in such a case.

But the U.S. president has been pushing direct diplomacy as an alternative.

The Biden administration has been in deep talks with Ukraine as well as a host of NATO allies, including those bordering Russia, according to Horne, the White House spokesperson.

Biden will likely speak with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy soon, another official said. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with the Ukrainian leader on Wednesday and expressed "unwavering support for Ukraine's independence," according to a spokesperson.

JSTARS, a type of U.S. military spy plane, operated in Ukrainian airspace for the first time earlier this week, though different types of surveillance aircraft are common in the region, officials said.

Biden on Tuesday said "we'll see" when asked if he would meet Putin on Jan. 10, the same day U.S. and Russian officials are due to hold security talks. But Biden is not expected to attend those talks or meet with Putin that day, an official said.

Russia and NATO are also set to hold talks on Jan. 12, with a broader meeting including Moscow, Washington and other European countries slated for Jan. 13.

Putin has compared to the current tensions to the Cold War-era Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Washington regards some of his demands, including restrictions on NATO expansion, as non-starters.

Conversations between Putin and Biden are likely to touch on other issues, too, including the ongoing talks with Iran https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/russian-envoy-iran-says-he-met-with-us-counterpart-vienna-2021-12-29 over its nuclear program, a U.S. official said.

(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow, Susan Heavey and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Alistair Bell)

Believe It Or Not, Giuliani Once Had A Finest Hour

Rudolph Giuliani was always somewhat off-center, even in his glory days as New York City mayor. But people who recall him then were stunned by his decline into a conspiracy-mongering swamp creature of Trump world. The 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 lets us remember that on that day of horror, Giuliani was on the chaotic scene, passing out courage and hope.

At 10 a.m. on 9/11, I was in New York on a train being kept underground in Penn Station. The two planes had just hit the World Trade Center.

The conductor came on the loudspeaker telling us repeatedly that "this is the safest place you can be right now." We didn't all have cellphones then, but a guy in the back of the car did and informed us that the Pentagon had been hit and the first tower, and then the second, had come down. The conductor asked us to pray for the people in the World Trade Center.

We were scared and shuddered imagining the terror downtown. We didn't know at that point who did it, why or whether they had stopped. We wanted to get out of town, but the train wasn't going anywhere because the tunnels were being searched for bombs.

The conductor came on one last time and told us to stay calm, take our bags and leave the train. We ascended into the light and a totally transformed city, country and world.

A public filled with dread needed consoling. President George W. Bush was incommunicado most of the day. But Giuliani was there among the smoking debris, the only visible political figure offering solace and, even more importantly, reassurance that life would go on.

He spoke eloquently about the collective grief. Asked how many had died, he said, "The number of casualties will be more than any of us can bear."

But he also pleaded with New Yorkers to keep faith in the future. "Tomorrow, New York is going to be here," he said.

The most calming thing he said that afternoon, though, was that two of the subway lines were again operating and named which ones. Yes, it was going to be OK.

Giuliani became "America's Mayor," hailed as the ash-covered leader of 9/11. Time magazine made him "Person of the Year," and Queen Elizabeth gave him an honorary knighthood.

The backstory of Giuliani's role in 9/11 was less inspiring. One reason he became the hero of the streets was that he had pushed to place the Office of Emergency Management headquarters in the worst possible location, on the 23rd floor inside the 7 World Trade Center building. The office was created in response to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and the site was considered among the top targets for terrorists.

Giuliani has long had a strained relationship with the truth but went over the deep end in 2019 by peddling a theory that Ukraine tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. He forever disgraced himself by pushing lies that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump — culminating in his speech on Jan. 6, calling on Trump supporters to engage in "trial by combat" right before they ravaged the capital.

Giuliani had already fallen far. In 2018, he attended a game at Yankee Stadium, and when the announcer said, "The New York Yankees wish a very happy birthday to Mayor Giuliani," the crowd burst out with boos.

There's been much speculation about what happened to him. In New York City, he could have had bridges, roads and schools named for him. All that's left is a memory of Giuliani's finest hour urging battle against fear in the darkness of 9/11.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

Feds Request Permission To Subpoena Giuliani’s Electronic Records

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

According to NBC News, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) have been involved in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., regarding Rudy Giuliani's electronic communications. Officials are looking to obtain access to Giuliani's emails, according to two insiders. To be granted access, the SDNY must receive approval from the Justice Department to move forward with requesting a search warrant signed by a federal judge. However, it is still unclear whether or not the Justice Department has granted the request.

The full spectrum of the current investigation is also an aspect that remains unclear. However, the Wall Street Journal reported details about the October 2019 investigative probe into Giuliani's Ukraine business transactions as it revealed SDNY prosecutors were reviewing the embattled attorney's bank records. Around that time, two of Giuliani's previous associates —Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman— were arrested on a string of fraud-related charges.

Another aspect of the investigation that suggests it is still "very active" is prosecutors' pursuit of witnesses and the search for more documentation to build the case. Chuck Rosenberg, a current NBC News analyst and former attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, explained why the Justice Department might be hesitant to grant this type of request from SDNY.

"It's sensible to perhaps treat a search warrant as an overt investigative step," said Rosenberg. "Search warrants for a subject's personal belongings are not terribly discreet and the recipient of the warrant can talk about it. That could be a legitimate concern before an election but the equation changes after an election, when you no longer need to abstain from overt investigative steps."

Spokespersons for both law enforcement agencies have declined to comment on the latest reports. Giuliani's own lawyer Robert Costello also released a brief statement to NBC News.

"I have no reason to believe there's any truth to the allegations that there is renewed interest in my client."

‘The Hill’ Posts Damning Report On Solomon’s Role In Ukraine Scandal

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

The Hill on Wednesday published its internal review of former columnist John Solomon’s role in the Trump-Ukraine scandal, in which he pushed a series of smear narratives against key Democratic figures — smears that have continued in Solomon’s new role as a Fox News contributor, and which that network’s own internal research division knows to be false.

Not that the review itself can just easily wash away The Hill’s sins. The article states: “This review was conducted independently by The Hill’s news staff under the direction of Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack.” While The Hill perhaps means it was done “independently” of the opinion section, where Solomon officially worked, the supervision of the paper’s editor-in-chief and the involvement of its own news staff would also mean it’s not really “independent” — which would have required some kind of outside oversight.

The report is also flawed in that it only focuses on Solomon’s work in the Ukraine story — not branching out into other stories in which he clearly committed the same ethical transgressions. For example, the connection between Solomon’s reporting and his attorneys Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing — a point of criticism in The Hill’s review — was also apparent in his columns pushing the Uranium One narrative. (Solomon had cited an anonymous source for the anti-Clinton conspiracy theory, who turned out to be another one of Toensing’s clients, lobbyist William Douglas Campbell.)

National security reporter Marcy Wheeler noted another missing line of inquiry:

Despite these shortcomings, the report is still quite damning of both Solomon’s behavior and The Hill’s longtime tolerance of it.

The review explains how Solomon misused his official title as an opinion columnist, while seemingly offering up investigative news reports — and The Hill didn’t do anything about it, thus creating an opportunity for Fox News to further spread Solomon’s stories around:

While Solomon’s columns on Ukraine were labeled as opinion, they largely read like news stories. Adding to the potential confusion between opinion and news, Solomon was identified as “an award-winning journalist” in his column tagline. When appearing on television to discuss his Ukraine columns, Solomon was not typically labeled an opinion writer by the broadcast programs. The Hill did not contact television producers to label Solomon as an opinion columnist. It should have.

Lending further support to an impression that the columns were more like news stories, rather than opinion columns, Solomon’s Ukraine columns were longer than typical opinion pieces, in many cases contained what could be viewed or was identified by him as original reporting, and stuck to one general topic. This may have suggested to many readers it was an investigative series, which normally resides in the news department, rather than opinion. Solomon’s subsequent appearances on Fox News where he was often identified as an investigative journalist further potentially blurred the distinction between news and opinion in the minds of some readers.

A cursory search on Nexis shows that Hannity and other Fox News hosts have referred to Solomon as an “investigative journalist” or “investigate reporter” over 100 times since January 2018. (Indeed, this point was a bone of contention in the internal Fox News document, as well.)

As for Solomon’s actual columns, The Hill’s review goes into Solomon’s crucial omissions of his sources’ own agendas: “In certain columns, Solomon failed to identify important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fact that they had been indicted or were under investigation. In other cases, the sources were his own attorneys.”

Those attorneys are diGenova and Toensing, who also have previous legal ties to President Donald Trump and have made over 100 appearances on Fox News, though they are currently missing from the network. (Solomon has also revealed recently that diGenova and Toensing introduced him to indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas.)

The review also further exposes Solomon’s role in working with Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who ran a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine to smear Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. At one point, the report uses some rather dry and legalistic language to call out Solomon’s dishonesty about his ties to Giuliani, Parnas, diGenova, and Toensing:

Solomon has said the notion of Giuliani being a principal source for his Ukraine columns is a “bogus narrative.” In November 2019, Solomon said Giuliani was “never an on-the-record, off-the-record or on-background source for any of those stories.”

Since the publication of Solomon’s columns, Parnas delivered Ukraine-related communications to Congress that show repeated contact among Parnas, Giuliani, Solomon, and Victoria Toensing of the Washington law firm of diGenova & Toensing, among others.

Solomon need not worry too much about fallout from The Hill’s review, thanks to his new gig at Fox News. After all, the reporting earlier this month on the Fox News internal research document showed that his new employers were fully aware that he had “played an indispensable role in the collection and domestic publication of elements of this disinformation campaign.” But the network continued to run with his stories as part of its overall push to aid Trump throughout the impeachment process, and Solomon is still appearing there to this very day.

And hey, at least The Hill went to the trouble of investigating some of the disinformation they’d been peddling. Meanwhile, it’s been years and we’re still waiting on that promised review of Fox’s own lies about the Seth Rich case.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

As Ukraine Purge Continues, Trump Fires Top Pentagon Official

Top Pentagon policy official John Rood, who spoke out against Trump’s Ukraine effort, was asked to step down from his position, continuing the purge of administration officials who were against Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, CNN reported Wednesday morning.

A copy of Rood’s resignation letter, obtained by CBS, made clear the request came from Trump.

“It is my understanding from Secretary Esper that you requested my resignation,” Rood wrote to Trump.

Rood, who served as the defense undersecretary for policy, spoke out against Trump’s plan to withhold military aid to Ukraine in order to force the country to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Rood wrote in an email to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, hours after Trump’s infamous July 25 call with the Ukrainian president, “Placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia,” according to CNN.

Rood is the latest member of the administration who Trump has ousted over the Ukraine scandal. Trump was impeached over the scheme, but Senate Republicans acquitted him — saying that, while Trump’s behavior was wrong, they felt Trump had learned his lesson and thus did not warrant removal from office.

However, immediately after his acquittal, Trump began purging officials who testified in the impeachment probe, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and Gordon Sondland, the now-former United States ambassador to the European Union and a key figure in the Ukraine plot.

Rood, for his part, is expected to depart his position soon.

At the Pentagon, Rood worked on implementing the Trump administration’s efforts to counter aggression from Russia and China.

In his resignation letter, Rood wrote, “I leave with the utmost admiration for the outstanding team with which I worked at the Defense Department.”

Updated with additional information for John Rood’s resignation letter.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Graham Promises Senate Probe Of Bidens

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

From the February 2 edition of Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo:

MARIA BARTIROMO (ANCHOR): Schumer this morning signaling that the Democrats will not accept an acquittal as legitimate. Nancy Pelosi hinting that she is going to call Bolton in the House. John Bolton. What’s the dems next move? And how are you going to get anything done, Senator, if you actually got the other side constantly pushing to find out dirt on Donald Trump?

LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, the president has been successful in spite of all of this. I hope we can turn the page as a nation and focus on issues important. But as Nancy Pelosi calls Bolton, here is what I would say. They’re impeaching the president for suspension of aid that was eventually received, trying to leverage an investigation that never happened. This is ridiculous. Mueller broke their heart. They won’t let it go. They hate this man. Pelosi is no longer Speaker of the House. Just in name only. I don’t know if they will ever let it go. Here is what I’m going to do. If they talk to Bolton, I will bring in State Department officials, and ask them why didn’t you do something about the obvious conflict of interest Joe Biden had? Joe Biden’s effort to combat corruption in the Ukraine became a joke, when Joe Biden got before the Ukrainian parliament talking about sweetheart deals, and reforming the energy sector, I can only imagine how they were laughing under their breath. What about your son, Vice President Biden, sitting on the most corrupt board in Ukraine, Burisma, receiving $3 million dollars. I can only imagine if a Republican done what Biden had done. But we’re going to get to the bottom of this. And I can prove beyond any doubt that Joe Biden’s effort in the Ukraine to root out corruption was undercut because he let his son sit on the board of the most corrupt company in the Ukraine and we’ll not give him a pass on that.

BARTIROMO: So you’re not going to give him a pass. How are you going to get to the bottom of it? Should we expect your committee to call to testify Hunter Biden, whistle employer, Adam Schiff, all of those names you’ve been talking about. Is this going to happen this upcoming week, then?

GRAHAM: It’s going to happen in the coming weeks. Jim Risch is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Jim, if you’re watching the show, I hope you are, we need to call chief of staff to John Kerry who was told about the conflict of interest with Hunter Biden being on Burisma’s board early on. Heinz, the stepson of John Kerry was a business partner of Hunter Biden and Devon Archer. And he told the State Department, I’m not part of this deal. I don’t think it is right. George Kent told the State Department it would be a conflict for Hunter Biden to be on the Burisma board. Let’s start there. Let’s call these people in. Eventually, we’ll get to Hunter Biden. And I want to know why the Obama administration did nothing about this obvious conflict of interest. Joe Biden should have given up the Ukrainian portfolio or Hunter Biden should have been taken off the board. Because they ruined America’s ability to effectively deal with corruption in the Ukraine by having Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma. That is just a fact. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it.

Giuliani Podcast Promotes His Debunked Ukraine Conspiracies

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

You almost have to feel sorry for Rudy Giuliani — almost.

As the personal attorney for President Donald Trump, he ran a shadow foreign policy campaign in Ukraine to smear Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, a front-runner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election. (And he couldn’t have done it without other associates, such as attorneys Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, indicted henchmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and current Fox contributor John Solomon.)

But now, Giuliani has been left off the actual legal team for Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. Instead, he’s presenting a virtual trial on his new podcast. And as we’ve already documented, his entire racket consists of telling people to tune in for his next appearance, during which he will show all this proof of Biden’s supposed wrongdoing — only to then ask people to tune in the next time after that, to see it then.

The second episode of Giuliani’s podcast, while seeming to show documentary evidence supporting his case — in the form of various papers he holds up for viewers to see on camera — is really just more of the same lies, distortions, and empty promises he’s dealt in so far.

Now, let’s examine just a handful of bogus claims from Giuliani’s latest round of falsehoods.

Giuliani says Shokin’s reputation for corruption is another big conspiracy by “children of Soros”

In this video, Giuliani focuses on Viktor Shokin, the former prosecutor general of Ukraine who was fired in 2016 at the urging of then-Vice President Biden and the international community. That event has formed the nucleus of right-wing smears against Biden, which allege that he pushed for Shokin’s removal in order to shield his son Hunter, who had joined the board of a Ukrainian gas company, from investigation.

In reality, the push to get Shokin fired was part of a Ukrainian anti-corruption effort by advocates and international supporters of the country. It was well-established that the United States’ position was that ousting Shokin was a critical aspect of anti-corruption measures. At the time of his removal, The New York Times reported that the “United States and other Western nations had for months called for the ousting of Mr. Shokin” for “turning a blind eye to corrupt practices and for defending the interests of a venal and entrenched elite.”

But not according to Giuliani’s telling. In his words, Shokin was an honest and active prosecutor: “If he was corrupt, he sure wasn’t good at it. Because I’ve met him — he’s not a rich man.”

And furthermore, Giuliani asserts, all the aspersions on Shokin’s character were also “created” as part of that grand conspiracy — the whole thing driven, he later claims, by George Soros’ nongovernmental organizations such as the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Ukraine, which he says are the true epicenter of corruption. “Then you wonder why, when they fire Shokin, they can get people from Italy and England and Germany to all say that he’s corrupt,” Giuliani claims. “They’re all people from the NGOs that were being paid off.”

The freezing of Burisma’s assets — Giuliani rewrites history

In his podcast, Giuliani lays out the case of the corrupt Ukrainian oligarch Mykola Zlochevsky, founder of the Burisma energy company. Giuliani claims that after the 2014 revolution in Ukraine — which overthrew a corrupt, pro-Russian government in which Zlochevsky had been a cabinet minister and engaged in all sorts of self-dealing for his company — “he was very afraid that the new government, which was going to be supposedly a reform government, was going to take his business away from him.”

Giuliani then claims Ukrainian authorities like Shokin were right on Zlochevsky’s trail: “And they already began actions against him in the U.K., to take his money away from him.” Thus, Giuliani says that Zlochevsky hired Hunter Biden to protect him from these corruption-busting Ukrainian prosecutors.

But way back in December 2015 — long before this story was ever part of the current impeachment debate or the 2020 election — The New York Times ran a news article that cast a suspicious eye on Hunter Biden’s involvement with the company. And even that coverage made it clear that Ukrainian prosecutors under Shokin were part of the problem by refusing to cooperate in that very investigation over in Britain, leaving little reason for Zlochevsky to even need Biden’s supposed help:

But after Ukrainian prosecutors refused to provide documents needed in the investigation, a British court in January ordered the Serious Fraud Office to unfreeze the assets. The refusal by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office to cooperate was the target of a stinging attack by the American ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey R. Pyatt, who called out Burisma’s owner by name in a speech in September.

“In the case of former Ecology Minister Mykola Zlochevsky, the U.K. authorities had seized $23 million in illicit assets that belonged to the Ukrainian people,” Mr. Pyatt said. Officials at the prosecutor general’s office, he added, were asked by the United Kingdom “to send documents supporting the seizure. Instead, they sent letters to Zlochevsky’s attorneys attesting that there was no case against him. As a result, the money was freed by the U.K. court, and shortly thereafter the money was moved to Cyprus.”

The Wall Street Journal has also documented that “Mr. Shokin had dragged his feet on those investigations, Western diplomats said, and effectively squashed one in London by failing to cooperate with U.K. authorities, who had frozen $23.5 million of Mr. Zlochevsky’s assets.”

There was no “raid” against Burisma in 2016

Giuliani also claims that under Shokin, the investigation against Burisma had been very much alive, and there was a “raid” of the company in February 2016 — around the same time as Joe Biden was demanding Shokin’s firing. (Giuliani’s phrasing that Shokin “arrested the Burisma company” seems a bit odd; how does one put an entire corporation in handcuffs?)

The Washington Post examined this claim back in December when House Republicans also attempted to advance the storyline that a “raid” had taken place against Burisma. But instead, they found that “nothing significant appears to have happened in February 2016 except primarily the reinstatement of a previous court order. Instead, Zlochevsky’s assets had been seized a year earlier and were only briefly not under a court order because of a prosecutorial error.”

Prosecutions against Burisma had been long dormant, as former Deputy Prosecutor General Vitaliy Kasko told Bloomberg this past May: “It was shelved by Ukrainian prosecutors in 2014 and through 2015.”

What is that document?

Giuliani also holds up what he says is a document from a prosecutorial office in Latvia, supposedly proving that prosecutors were on the trail of Hunter Biden in February 2016.

rudy-giuliani-podcast-holding-up-alleged-document-01-29-2020.jpg

But this isn’t new, either. Giuliani already showed this purported document during his recent series on the right-wing media outlet One America News Network.

The Washington Post reached out last month to the Latvian government to find out whether the document was authentic but did not hear back. The paper also pointed to some suspicious signs that it might have been tailor-made just to go after Hunter Biden:

So what does it show? It essentially shows that Burisma paid four people through these transfers. Who are these people? They are all people who were employed by Burisma at the time. Archer and Hunter Biden served on its board, while Apter joined as chairman around the same time. Hunter Biden said he was convinced to join the board by the fourth person, Kwasniewski, who is a former president of Poland.

Somebody in Latvia apparently regarded these money transfers as suspicious, but there isn’t much to go on here. And even if the money was laundered, does it implicate Hunter Biden in the laundering? (There have long been legitimate questions about potential corruption at Burisma.) The document for some reason names four people as receiving the funds but mentions Hunter Biden as being involved only “in corruption affair.” Why is that? You would think the document might explain, but OANN doesn’t appear to have probed that.

Money laundering experts said there doesn’t seem to be much there there.

(Emphasis in the original.)

Forbes magazine, hardly a left-wing outlet, also took a look at this supposed document and noted the weaknesses of whatever it was supposed to prove:

But the document only states that “according to publicly available information, Burisma Holding Limited and its director Hunter Biden are involved in corruption affair.” The document proceeds to list monetary transactions of Burisma outside of Ukraine, without any mention of investigations or other evidence of allegedly corrupt activities beyond the initial reference to publicly available information.

Giuliani’s most irresponsible claim yet

Giuliani goes on to tell viewers that soon after he spoke with Shokin in late 2019, the former prosecutor general was poisoned with mercury and almost died in an apparent assassination attempt, having to be transported to Austria for both medical treatment and his personal safety.

“So there was an attempt to kill Shokin, which gives you an idea of how serious what we’re dealing with is,” Giuliani says. “This is a very, very serious matter.”

It may well be that Shokin was poisoned by some unknown party. The physician in Austria whom Giuliani cites to say that Shokin was poisoned, Dr. Nikolai Korpan, is in fact a reputable medical practitioner with significant prior experience treating these sorts of cases. (Indeed, it seems to be a common practice for the Russian government to kill people by poisoning, using “mysterious chemical substances” like mercury or dioxins as the method of choice.)

But what Giuliani is clearly trying to imply here — without just coming out and saying it directly, of course — is that Joe Biden or people close to him arranged for this crime to occur. He clearly does not have any evidence to say that, and for charges of this magnitude, it is grossly irresponsible to even be implying it as he is.

Tune in next time — same Rudy channel

Of course, Giuliani closes out with an exhortation for his viewers to watch the next episode, promising that’s when he’ll really get to the bottom of the Bidens’ supposed misdeeds.

“This is a vast crime. This is probably, obviously, going to be the biggest scandal so far of this century — let’s hope there’s none greater,” he says. “It makes Teapot Dome look cheap, when we get finished with the amounts of money, and there’s a lot more to it.”

“And in the next episode, we’ll finish the outline. We’ve got most of it. And then we’ll get right to the testimony, and you’ll get to see some of these witnesses on camera, for yourself, to see that we have something called proof — which Democrats do not have against the president, and never had.”