The former Ukrainian diplomat at the center of outlandish Republican claims that Kyiv, not Moscow, had intervened in the 2016 presidential race has been formally sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Andrii Telizhenko spun a web of stories enthusiastically taken up by Donald Trump's supporters, including his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who used this alleged evidence in efforts to slime President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden ahead of the 2020 election.
The Treasury accused Telizhenko of being “part of a Russia-linked foreign influence network” on Monday. Interestingly, the U.S. government also chose to state on the record that Trump’s beloved Ukraine scandals were “false.”
Telizhenko tried to distance himself from a former collaborator and known Russian agent Andriy Derkach in an interview with The Daily Beast last September after Derkach himself had been sanctioned.
“I never liked Derkach, never knew much about his background,” Telizhenko told The Daily Beast. “The U.S. intelligence services must have found solid evidence about the background of that man. I am sure that everybody who knows Derkach is not surprised to hear about the sanctions.”
Telizhenko’s efforts to show that he was not close to the Kremlin asset evidently did not dissuade the U.S. Treasury from going after him as well.
Giuliani’s off-the-books Ukrainian intelligence operation, which included a ploy to prove that it was not Putin who intervened in 2016, ultimately ended up with his client, President Trump, being impeached by the House of Representatives. The Senate voted not to convict him, but the recriminations of Giuliani’s mission to Kyiv saw the three men turn on each other.
Earlier in the year, they had appeared close. Giuliani interviewed both Derkach and Telizhenko on his YouTube video series “Common Sense,” which claimed to expose the truth about the Bidens. Telizhenko even recorded a voiceover at Giuliani’s request for the segment with Derkach.
All three of them, who had met in Ukraine, also appeared in a One America News (OAN) documentary which sought to disprove the Trump Russia hoax in 2019.
Telizhenko, who worked at the Ukrainian embassy in D.C. for six months in 2015 and 2016, was also feeding information to other pro-Trump figures. The Daily Beast reported in November 2016 that he had met Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), one of the most outspoken defenders of Trump in Congress.
The former diplomat told The Daily Beast that he also provided evidence on the so-called scandal in Ukraine for Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) investigation that was supposed to be a bombshell that would damage the prospects of Joe Biden.
The Treasury statement said, “Telizhenko, a former low-level Ukrainian diplomat, orchestrated meetings between Derkach and U.S. persons to help propagate false claims concerning corruption in Ukraine.”
Konstantin Kulyk, a former prosecutor, was also sanctioned by the U.S. on Monday. He too met with Giuliani and helped to spread unsubstantiated smears about the Bidens.
Another former Ukrainian government official, Oleksandr Onyshchenko, was also part of the operation. He told BuzzFeed News that he had tried to give evidence that would supposedly incriminate Biden to the Department of Justice.
Onyshchenko has also now been sanctioned, alongside the current Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky, who is a known associate of Derkach.