By JACK DATE and JOHN SANTUCCI, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The man the Treasury Department called “an active Russian agent for over a decade,” met with President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Andrii Derkach, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, and three other Russian-linked individuals were designated Thursday, by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, for attempting to influence the U.S. electoral process.
“Andrii Derkach and other Russian agents employ manipulation and deceit to attempt to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere around the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Last November, Derkach appeared with Giuliani as part of a One America News (OAN) “investigation” that aired in December, the same week the House of Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against the president.
Giuliani appears on-camera seated at a table with Derkach for an interview with OAN reporter Chanel Rion in what Giuliani calls their first meeting, which, according to OAN, lasted more than three hours.
“This interview is being conducted by OAN… an American network, journalistic organization,” Giuliani explains in the OAN piece. “My role, you should understand, I don’t represent the government, I am President Trump’s private attorney, so my role throughout, going back over a year, before I had met you,(referring to Derkach), is to try to get the facts about Ukrainian collusion, Ukrainian corruption, that interfered in the 2017, um 2016 election.”
Giuliani goes on to say, “My goal here is just one simple goal and that is to defend the President of the United States individually against the original false charges of Russian collusion and now the false charges with regards to his conversations with President Zelenskiy,” referring to the call between Trump and the Ukrainian president, which by then had become the focus of the impeachment inquiry.
But, in his effort to defend Trump against allegations of Russian collusion in the 2016 election, Giuliani, wittingly or unwittingly, met with someone the Trump administration would later designate a Russian agent who was actively trying to influence the 2020 election.
The OAN documentary said that Derkach provided Giuliani and OAN with access to hundreds of pages of documents related to the former vice president, his son, Hunter Biden, and allegations about Burisma, the energy company in which Hunter Biden served as a board member.
Giuliani, in a statement to ABC News, said Derkach did provide him with information about “unaccounted for foreign aid,” but that “all the rest of the information he gave us we had already gotten months earlier from other witnesses and documents.”
Giuliani said in a statement to the New York Times, and confirmed by ABC News, that he had “no reason to believe [Derkach] is a Russian agent. There is nothing I saw that said he was a Russian agent. There is nothing he gave me that seemed to come from Russia at all.”
Authorities say this past spring, Derkach released a series of heavily edited audio recordings designed to interfere with the U.S. presidential race. Some of those recordings were an apparent attempt to smear the Bidens.
“Derkach has directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference in an attempt to undermine the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election,” a Treasury Department press release said.
Under the Treasury designation, Americans are prohibited from engaging in transactions with Derkach, and any property he has that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction is blocked.
The Justice Department, Thursday, also brought wire fraud and conspiracy charges against three Russian nationals allegedly involved in election interference operations connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA). The IRA was previously charged in the Special Counsel investigation into Russian election interference led by Robert Mueller.
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