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SHADOW 'DIPLOMACY'

BUSTED: Rudy Giuliani Outed for ‘Shadow Diplomacy’ With Venezuela — Similar to His Ukraine Scandal

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Talk to Rudy,” President Donald Trump said to anyone dealing with Ukraine issues. The sworn testimony came from European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who testified before Congress on the president’s efforts to bribe Ukraine into investigating his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Ukraine isn’t the only country Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, is working with outside the purview of the State Department. As of Sept. 2018, Giuliani was on the phone with former Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. He was joined by implicated former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Sessions has already been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury and Giuliani is reportedly under criminal investigation.

“Both were part of a shadow diplomatic effort, backed in part by private interests, aimed at engineering a negotiated exit to ease President Nicolás Maduro from power and reopen resource-rich Venezuela to business, according to people familiar with the endeavor,” The Post reported.

Sessions’ own spokesperson, Matt Mackowiak, revealed to The Postthat the former Congressman was the special person tasked with finding a “back-channel” to visiting with Maduro in person.

It wasn’t the first, and it wouldn’t be the last time Giuliani inserted himself into “shadow diplomacy,” outside of the view of the public.

Currently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to leave the department to run for U.S. Senate in Kansas, despite being linked to Trump’s Ukraine scandal. But after Trump won in 2016, Giuliani let it be known he was holding out for the high position in the president’s cabinet.

“I probably have traveled in the last 13 years as much as Hillary did in the years she was secretary of state,” Giuliani said in Nov. 2016. “My knowledge of foreign policy is as good, or better, than anybody they’re talking to.”

Giuliani did two major interviews where he campaigned for the gig, toting his international chops, which came after the Sept. 11 attacks in which the former New York City mayor worked to profit off of his connection to the most deadly terrorist incident on American soil.

The fact that Giuliani has taken over international relations without oversight or transparency is “alarming administration officials confused about whose interests he was representing,” said the report.

“His freelancing has triggered concerns among White House officials that his intercessions have muddied and at times undercut official U.S. policy, according to people familiar with the worries, who, like others cited in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions,” said The Post. “Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are scrutinizing the former New York mayor as part of an investigation into possible foreign lobbying violations.” Giuliani isn’t registered as a foreign agent.

White House officials had no idea why Giuliani was involved in Venezuela or with Maduro, one former senior official told The Post. It was against White House’s official policy not to talk to Maduro and shore up sanctions against his government, at former DNI John Bolton’s urging. Giuliani then met with Bolton to discuss his “off-the-books plan” to get Maduro out of office. It was “a plan Bolton vehemently rejected, two people familiar with the meeting said.”

After Bolton urged the president to recognize Maduro’s rival Juan Guaidó as the new president, Giuliani was hired by a new Venezuelan tycoon who’s under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for money laundering.

“The tale of [the] behind-the-scenes talks with Maduro offers another example in which the president’s personal attorney aligned with private interests to try to sway U.S. foreign policy,” said The Post. But it also goes to Giuliani’s eagerness to profit off of international work. While Giuliani was supposedly trying to dig up dirt on the Biden family in Ukraine, he was scoring cash from Ukraine’s state-run gas company.

“Their aims were profit, not politics,” the AP reported in October. “This circle of businessmen and Republican donors touted connections to Giuliani and Trump while trying to install new management at the top of Ukraine’s massive state gas company. Their plan was to then steer lucrative contracts to companies controlled by Trump allies, according to two people with knowledge of their plans.”

The same figures involved in the Ukraine scandal also seem to be involved in the shadow-effort in Venezuela, too, including indicted Giuliani henchman Lev Parnas and Sessions.

Read the full Washington Post piece here.

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