WASHINGTON - Attorney General William Barr acknowledged Monday that the Justice Department is evaluating information from Ukraine provided by Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump's personal attorney who has sought to tar Trump rival Joe Biden and revive a discredited theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election.
Barr said the Justice Department has an obligation to assess the information, but he did not elaborate on the nature of the review. Any information related to Ukraine should be treated with caution, he said, referring to rampant corruption and Russia's aggressive dis-information campaign.
Giuliani has been Trump's point man in Ukraine. In addition to stoking the discredited theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election, he has sought damaging information about Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.
Giuliani and Trump allies have claimed Biden improperly used his position as vice president to help his son, Hunter Biden, who was a highly-compensated board member of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings. No evidence has emerged to support that claim.
The view from Ukraine: Trump's conspiracy theories thrive in Ukraine, where a young democracy battles corruption and distrust
Giuliani's efforts were aided by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, Soviet-born businessmen and Republican donors who helped him meet with former Ukrainian prosecutors and other officials. The three urged the ouster of Marie Yovanovitch, who at the time was the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
During an April 2018 meeting Trump held with campaign donors, Parnas alleged, without citing evidence, that Yovanovitch had predicted Trump would be impeached well before House investigators launched their impeachment inquiry last year.
Trump responded by ordering Yovanovitch's removal, though she remained in the job for a year longer.
Yovanovitch denied any such disloyalty when she testified in the impeachment inquiry last year.
The middleman: How Lev Parnas joined Team Trump and became Rudy Giuliani's fixer in Ukraine
Parnas, Fruman and two business associates were indicted in October on charges of scheming to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to U.S. political candidates and committees. The scheme involved an unidentified Ukrainian businessman and an unidentified Russian national who provided funding, the indictment charged.
All four men have pleaded not guilty.
Parnas broke ranks with Giuliani and Trump after he was arrested, providing records, photos and other documents to House investigators during the Trump impeachment hearing.
The material included a letter from Giuliani requesting a meeting with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Giuliani wrote the letter as he sought damaging information on Biden, telling Zelensky he was acting "in my capacity as personal counsel to President Trump and with his knowledge and consent." However, the meeting never took place.
Giuliani has accused Parnas of lying.
Barr's disclosure came a day after Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., acknowledged he had discussed Giuliani's material with Barr and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
"The Department of Justice is receiving information coming out of Ukraine from Rudy," Graham said on "Face the Nation."
Graham said Barr "told me that they've created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it's verified."
Graham cautioned that "the Russians are still up to it," referring to its disinformation campaign. "When it comes to documents coming out of the Ukraine, to Republicans and Democrats, be very cautious."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DOJ reviewing Giuliani information targeting Biden Ukraine connection