An aide to the Ukrainian president who has been swept up in President Trump’s impeachment scandal was seen meeting with a former Trump adviser in Kyiv on Wednesday night.
Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian presidential aide whose name has featured heavily in impeachment depositions for his role at the receiving end of Trump’s alleged anti-Biden crusade in Ukraine, was spotted with Bryan Lanza at a restaurant in central Kyiv, according to the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrayinska Pravda.
Photos and video of the evening meeting show the two joined by a woman identified as Yermak’s assistant. It was not immediately clear what the two discussed, and an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declined to comment on the meeting.
But the mere sight of Zelensky’s top adviser meeting with a former Trump adviser-turned-lobbyist was enough to raise eyebrows.
Yermak is a key figure in the impeachment probe against Trump, as he was the main intermediary for the Ukrainian president in efforts by top Trump officials and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to have the Ukrainian government pursue an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden and widely debunked claims of Ukrainian election interference in 2016.
Lanza, a managing director at Mercury Public Affairs LLC, served as an adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition, and has described the impeachment proceedings against Trump as a “sham impeachment” and “partisan coup” on Twitter.
Last year, he also worked on behalf of a Russian oligarch-owned aluminum company to have U.S. sanctions lifted.
Lanza is said to have undertaken a lobbying campaign on behalf of the board of directors of EN+—the holding company that owns Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal—just a few weeks after sanctions were announced against the company last spring. The company was hit with sanctions as part of U.S. measures to punish the Kremlin for 2016 election interference and the occupation of Crimea.
Lanza, who along with Mercury was hired by Greg Barker, a British lord and the chairman of EN+, helped with an aggressive lobbying campaign that saw him reach out to top officials at the State Department, Treasury, and reportedly the White House. The Trump administration lifted sanctions on Rusal after Deripaska agreed to surrender his controlling stake.
Mercury LLC is also known for its ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is currently serving a stint in federal prison on fraud and conspiracy charges, and the former Kremlin-friendly Ukrainian president whom Manafort helped bring to power before he was ousted in a bloody uprising.
Lanza registered as a foreign agent with the Department of Justice in October 2018 for his work representing Hikvision, a Chinese camera company that sold surveillance equipment to the camps where millions of Uighurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are imprisoned. Despite Hikvision’s spending on lobbying, the Department of Commerce put the company on a government blacklist.
—Michael Weiss contributed reporting