Giuliani pressed Ukrainians to probe Biden allegations in 2019 call -CNN

FILE PHOTO: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks in Washington, U.S., November 19, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The audiotape of a July 2019 phone call shows former U.S. President Donald Trump's then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate baseless allegations about Trump's 2020 election rival Joe Biden, CNN reported on Monday.

CNN said it had obtained the audio of the call between Giuliani, U.S. diplomat Kurt Volker, and Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which it said was the precursor of a Trump-Zelenskiy call that was at the center of Trump's 2019 impeachment.

In the call, Giuliani said he wanted Zelenskiy to say he was putting a prosecutor in charge and "he's gonna investigate and dig up the evidence, that presently exists and is there any other evidence about involvement of the 2016 election, and then the Biden thing has to be run out," according to CNN.

Trump, a Republican, denounced as a political witch hunt allegations that he pressed Zelenskiy during a phone call to dig up dirt on Biden. The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump in December 2019, but he was acquitted by the then-Republican-dominated Senate early in 2020.

Trump lost the 2020 election to Biden, a Democrat, and left office in January 2021.

Yermak told Reuters on Tuesday that Ukraine had done "everything right" to foster relations with Washington and avoid taking sides in U.S. domestic political squabbles.

"And today we can say that the enormous efforts of our team have yielded results, because this year we have an unprecedented level of cooperation with the American administration at all levels," he said in written comments.

Zelenskiy spoke to Biden by phone on Monday, securing a much coveted White House invitation in July that Yermak said had been one of his objectives.

In April, federal prosecutors investigating Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine at the time he was serving as Trump's lawyer raided his home and office, seizing cell phones and computers.

Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, has not been charged. He said after the raids that his conduct had been "absolutely legal and ethical."

Giuliani began representing Trump in April 2018 in connection with then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham in Washington and Ilya Zhegulev in Kyiv; Editing by Stephen Coates and Steve Orlofsky)

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