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Washington Post: FBI warned Rudy Giuliani directly about Russian influence campaign

Giuliani at the time was the personal lawyer for former President Donald Trump and was trying to dig up the dirt from the 2020 election opponent of Trump Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Despite the reported warning, Giuliani continued on his mission to find damaging information about the Bidens, met with Kremlin-linked associates trying to influence the 2020 election, and publicly broadcast misleading and unsubstantiated allegations that were part of it. a disinformation campaign in Russia.

Sources familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN that Trump’s White House had been warned that some of the information passed to Giuliani came from foreign intelligence services, and some members of Congress were also warned by FBI counterintelligence.

Giuliani’s attorney, Robert Costello, denied that Giuliani had been warned about the Russian intelligence effort.

“This story is totally false according to Mayor Giuliani. He never received such a briefing,” Costello told CNN.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment for the newspaper.

Giuliani has been the subject of an investigation into his activities in Ukraine, including whether he had carried out illegal lobbying for Ukrainian officials as he continued an investigation related to the current President Biden, he said. CNN reported.

Giuliani has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing. Federal agents executed search warrants on Giuliani’s Manhattan apartment and office on Wednesday, and people familiar with the matter told CNN the investigation now focused primarily on Giuliani’s activities related to the Ukraine.

Ron Johnson Briefing

The Post reported that the FBI also gave a “defensive briefing” last August to Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who, as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee at the time, was investigating the Bidens for the Hunter Biden’s role on the board. of a Ukrainian energy company.

In the report that Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, released last year into their investigation, they said they had been briefed by the FBI. But they argued that the briefings were not intended to discourage them from carrying out their investigation.
Republicans wrote that the FBI briefed committees in March 2020 and briefed Johnson and Grassley in August. On August 6, 2020, President Grassley and President Johnson received another briefing from the FBI on behalf of the IC, in which the FBI said it was not attempting to “ suppress, reduce or interfere ” in the ‘investigation in any way. The report says.

In a statement, Johnson confirmed to CNN that he had received a defensive briefing from the FBI.

“Regarding reports that I received an FBI briefing advising me that I was a target of Russian disinformation, I can confirm that I received such a briefing in August 2020,” the Republican said of Wisconsin. “I asked the briefers what specific evidence they had regarding this warning, and they could not provide me with anything other than the general warning. Without specific information, I felt that the briefing was totally unnecessary and unnecessary (since I was fully aware of the dangers of Russian Disinformation).

“Because there was no substance in the briefing, and because it followed the production and leaking of a bogus intelligence product by Democratic leaders, I suspected that the briefing was being given to be used at a later date for the purpose that it is now used: to provide biased media an opportunity to falsely accuse me of being a tool of Russia despite the warnings, “Johnson added.” To date , I was not told who ordered the briefing completely unnecessary – but politically useful for my opponents. “

Democrats warned in a letter to the FBI last year that Johnson was receiving information from entities linked to Russia as part of a disinformation campaign targeting Biden. Johnson and Grassley disputed this, accusing Democrats of spreading disinformation.

Kremlin influence campaign

CNN previously reported that Giuliani and other allies of the former president publicly aligned themselves with figures linked to the Kremlin, even as the US government warned they were spreading lies.

Trump’s White House was warned in 2019 that Giuliani was “being used to convey Russian disinformation” to the president, which the Post first reported in October 2020. U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House that Giuliani “was the target of a Russian Intelligence influence operation” in which Trump was the intended recipient of the disinformation, according to the newspaper.
Despite the FBI warning in 2019, Giuliani still decided to travel to Ukraine in December 2019, the Post reported, where he met Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker whom the Trump administration in September considered a ” active Russian agent “and sanctioned for attempting to influence the election.

The U.S. intelligence community had previously singled out Derkach for helping Moscow’s efforts to try to weaken Biden in the election. Giuliani had worked with Derkach to release anti-Biden material during Trump’s first impeachment trial.

Democrats also accused Derkach of sending information to Johnson, who denied receiving anything from Derkach and instead accused Democrats of spreading Russian disinformation themselves with the allegation.

The U.S. intelligence community said in a landmark report in March that the Russian government interfered in the 2020 election with an influence campaign “denigrating” Biden and “supporting” Trump.

“A key part of Moscow’s strategy during this election cycle has been its use of Russian intelligence proxies to convey influential narratives – including misleading or unsubstantiated allegations against President Biden – to organizations media, American officials and prominent American figures, some close to former President Trump and his administration, “the report said.

This story has been updated to include the reaction of Giuliani’s lawyer.

CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Paula Reid, Marshall Cohen, Devan Cole, Zachary Cohen, Erica Orden, and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.

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