Rudy Giuliani openly declared that he was going to Ukraine to “interfere in an investigation,” but he was underselling it. The conspiracy theories that Giuliani has been pushing for Donald Trump’s benefit go beyond simply smearing Joe Biden and his family, to attacking Hillary Clinton, exonerating Vladimir Putin, and convicting the Ukrainian government of involvement in a broad international conspiracy. Not surprisingly, to support this “theory,” Giuliani has been prowling the debris of the former pro-Russian government that was ousted for its allegiance to Moscow and unending corruption. The threat of losing U.S. military assistance may be enough to keep Ukrainian leadership silent, but finding members of the current government who are willing to indict their own people simply to gain the favor of Trump and Guiliani has proven more of a challenge for Trump’s man in Kyiv.
But Giuliani thinks he has one. As the Kyiv Post reports, Andrii Telizhenko is a 29-year-old former Ukrainian diplomat who popped up in 2017 to claim that the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C. colluded with the Democratic Party to undermine Trump’s campaign — a statement that repeatedly appeared in statements from Republicans during the impeachment proceedings. None of the claims voiced by Telizhenko, who worked in D.C. for only a matter of weeks, have held up to even casual scrutiny. That hasn’t stopped Giuliani from making them a centerpiece of his “documentary” in support of Trump’s conspiracy theories, and it hasn’t stopped Republicans from using those claims to suggest that the ludicrous ideas championed by Trump and Giuliani deserve serious study. In fact, Republicans repeatedly put forward disproven statements by Telizhenko as if they are facts.
The Post describes Telizhenko as “a young man who came out of nowhere, sought personal enrichment and is hardly a reliable source for the claims he is making.” In fact, Telizhenko seems to be a serial liar whose background consists of constantly shedding his “beliefs” to adopt those of whoever happens to be winning at the moment. But it’s not as if going all in on backing Giuliani isn’t working out for him so far. Not only is he being squired around Ukraine by Trump’s personal attorney, Giuliani and Trump are now pushing to make Telizhenko the actual Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States.
Telizhenko‘s own personal story is riddled with claims about his education and actions that also don’t hold up to scrutiny. He’s also been accused of seeking bribes. But Telizhenko did work with fired prosecutor Viktor Shokin and claims that the prosecutor—who was so corrupt that his resignation was sought by the Obama administration, multiple allied nations, and a raft of Republican senators—was a good, tough, and “apolitical.” Best of all, Telizhenko claims that Shokin was investigating Burisma when he was fired, which is a claim not even Shokin makes—because it’s provably not true.
All this makes Telizhenko a one-stop-shop for supporting both of the conspiracy theories that Trump was demanding Ukrainian President Zelensky investigate. And it makes him the one person Republicans need to tap for “proof” that Trump’s demands were somehow reasonable.
So naturally, Trump and Guiliani want to reward their one man wrecking crew. As The New York Times reports, Telizhenko has been “embraced by Mr. Trump’s allies” and is being pushed as a candidate for ambassador despite a lack of experience, a history of soliciting bribes, and an overall reputation as a schemer. Because really … that makes him a perfect fit for Trump.