WASHINGTON – Rudy Giuliani received a so-called ‘defensive’ briefing from the FBI in 2019 in which agents warned him that he was the target of a Russian intelligence influence operation as he sought to assemble opposition research into the Biden family, according to a source. familiar with the subject.
The Washington Post first reported that Giuliani, personal attorney for former President Trump, received such a briefing. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., Publicly confirmed the Post reporting that he too had a similar briefing.
The Post cited current and former officials familiar with the matter, who all requested anonymity.
The briefings were given by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division after U.S. intelligence agencies learned that Russian spies were targeting Americans as part of a campaign designed to discredit Joe Biden and help Donald Trump win the day. 2020 presidential election, the source said.
The source said the briefing was unrelated to an ongoing federal criminal investigation into Giuliani.
Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, told NBC News there was no such briefing. “The story is totally false according to Mayor Giuliani,” Costello said. “The described event never happened.”
The fact that Giuliani received such a briefing could weigh heavily in any criminal case against Giuliani, as it shows that he was aware of his dealings with strangers. The US government subsequently made the warnings even more explicit, issuing a public statement last year saying that one of the people Giuliani had dealt with, Ukrainian parliamentarian Andrii Derkach, was a Russian intelligence asset.
“Derkach, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, has been an active Russian agent for more than a decade, maintaining close relations with Russian intelligence services,” a Treasury Department announcement said in September sanctioning him. “Derkach has directly or indirectly engaged, sponsored, concealed or otherwise complicit in foreign interference with the goal of undermining the upcoming US presidential election of 2020.”
After the FBI “defensive” briefing in late 2019, according to the Post, Giuliani traveled to Ukraine and met Derkach. He later said he had no idea he was dealing with anyone connected to Russian intelligence.
In March, U.S. intelligence agencies released a public assessment indicating that Russian President Vladimir Putin likely led the influence operation designed to hurt Biden and help Trump.