A prominent former prosecutor in Ukraine is claiming that a key reason he was ousted from his position last March was that he declined to launch a probe into natural gas company Burisma, which notoriously employed Hunter Biden, son of current President Joe Biden, as the Washington Examiner reports.
According to Rouslan Riaboshapka, who held the role of prosecutor general in Ukraine until his firing in March of 2020, his argument is bolstered by a recently-disclosed transcript of a telephone conversation between Andriy Yermak – chief of staff for the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky and Rudy Giuliani, one-time personal attorney to former President Donald Trump.
Riaboshapka points to the transcript as having revealed an “important detail” in that “Yermak promised Giuliani to open an investigation in to Hunter Biden” after the American lawyer explained that he wanted Zelensky to “just let these investigations go forward.”
At that time, Yermak seemed to promise that such a probe would indeed proceed, and Riaboshapka believes that the promises made to Giuliani to delve into the Bidens’ dealings prompted Zelensky to ultimately dismiss him from his prosecutorial role in June of 2020. The reason given at the time for his ouster was that he was not bringing cases to conclusion quickly enough, the Examiner noted.
The telephone discussion between Yermak and Giuliani occurred just days prior to the call between Trump and Zelensky which formed the basis of impeachment proceedings in which the former was accused of demanding a “quid pro quo” of investigations into the Bidens in exchange for the release of military aid to Ukraine.
Riaboshapka’s successor in the role of prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, has maintained that there is no need to re-open any probes involving Burisma, and presumably by implication, the Bidens’ involvement with the firm.
As the Examiner points out, this is the second time someone with strong connections to Ukraine has stepped forward to blame their firing on Giuliani, as the former American ambassador to the country, Marie Yovanovitch, claimed during Trump’s impeachment probe that the former New York City mayor and federal prosecutor conducted a “smear campaign” and “threatened” her prior to her removal from the post.
These revelations are particularly noteworthy given a recent federal raid of Giuliani’s New York apartment and office in which cellphones and computers were seized in an ongoing investigation thought to be centered on whether he was involved in unregistered lobbying on behalf of Ukrainian nationals during Trump’s tenure in office.
For his part, Giuliani has blasted the probe and the law enforcement searches as “out of control” and an effort on the part of federal authorities to “frame” him, as Fox News reported. Whether the investigation expands beyond a possible technical violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, however, remains to be seen.