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Friday, October 23, 2020

‘That’s Rudy’: Trump Reportedly Shrugged At Giuliani’s Russia Ties


Intelligence officials warned President Donald Trump last year that Russia was using his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in an influence operation, but the president largely dismissed the warnings, the Washington Post reported Thursday, shedding new light on Giuliani’s foreign ties as the former New York City mayor has spent the last year spreading scurrilous allegations about Joe Biden — some of which were promoted by Trump himself.

Key Facts

Intelligence agencies told the White House last year Giuliani was communicating with people involved in Russian intelligence, and Russia might try to use Giuliani to get misinformation to Trump, the Post reported, citing numerous former officials.

National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien reportedly met with Trump last year to privately warn him to treat any information from Giuliani with caution.

The Post reported that Trump “shrugged his shoulders” and seemed unsurprised by O’Brien’s claims, responding simply “that’s Rudy.”

Despite that meeting, Trump appears to have amplified some questionable claims linked to Giuliani: he retweeted accusations about Biden that were initially raised by an alleged Russian agent with whom Giuliani has met, and he appeared enthusiastic this week about a New York Post story on Joe Biden’s son Hunter that was sourced to Giuliani.

Giuliani and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Key Background

U.S. intelligence officials have warned for months about Russian efforts to spread misinformation and meddle with the result of the 2020 election, but Trump has shrugged off some of these warnings. Meanwhile, close Trump associate Giuliani has raised hackles for his foreign ties, especially after Trump faced impeachment last year for reportedly trying to pressure the Ukrainian government into investigating his political rival Biden. While Trump faced allegations he had abused his office, allies like Giuliani began promoting a discredited conspiracy theory about Biden’s conduct in Ukraine, claiming the former vice president was guilty of abusing his power. Giuliani reportedly met last year with Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker and alleged “active Russian agent” who spread out-of-context tapes designed to smear Biden.

Further Reading

White House was warned Giuliani was target of Russian intelligence operation to feed misinformation to Trump (Washington Post)

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