US intelligence agencies warned the White House that Rudy Giuliani was the target of a Russian intelligence operation, and had contact with Russian assets, while in Ukraine last year, according to reports from the Washington Post and New York Times. Giuliani visited the country in December seeking information he thought would show wrongdoing by former vice president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. But US intelligence—based on intercepted communications, among other things—raised concerns that Giuliani was being used to get misinformation to President Trump, former officials told the Post. When national security adviser Robert O'Brien privately warned Trump that Giuliani's information might be tainted, the president, in the midst of impeachment, "shrugged it off," per the Times. He later admitted directing Giuliani to go to Ukraine.
In August, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Andriy Derkach—a pro-Russian lawmaker Giuliani met in Ukraine on Dec. 5 and again in New York two months later, describing him as "very helpful"—was involved in a campaign to influence the 2020 election by sullying Biden. Last month, the US Treasury Department sanctioned Derkach, saying he was "an active Russian agent for over a decade." But Giuliani told the Post that he wasn't informed Derkach was a Russian agent. The report comes after a controversial New York Post story that claims Hunter Biden arranged a meeting between his father, who was then vice president, and an executive at Ukrainian energy firm Burisma—which the Biden campaign denies. The story is apparently based on information a tech shop owner pulled from a laptop and shared with Giuliani, though there are problems with the story. (Read more Rudy Giuliani stories.)