Brad Cummins, a former U.S. attorney who later became the Arkansas chair of the 2016 Donald Trump campaign, tried to interest federal prosecutors in now-discredited allegations against Democrat Joe Biden in October, 2018, according to information uncovered by Talking Points Memo, in a report published on Sunday.
Cummins, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas from 2001 to 2006, acknowledged to TPM that he received the allegations against Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, from ousted Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko, through two intermediaries. Lutsenko also passed Cummins allegations that the supposed “Black Ledger” containing evidence of financial misdeeds by 2016 Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort was fake, according to the TPM investigative report.
The revelation of the “Black Ledger,” which contained records of secret payments to Manafort from pro-Russian Ukrainian political figures and oligarchs, led to Manafort’s sudden departure from the 2016 Trump campaign.
As The Daily Beast has reported, the ledger was not a forgery, as Lutsenko and Republicans have claimed. In fact, an FBI investigation corroborated information in the so-called ledger two full years before Trump ran for president.
Cummins could not persuade Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman to take an interest in the bogus allegations against Biden, and regarding the Manafort ledger, according to TPM.
Thwarted in his efforts to persuade U.S. law enforcement to take up the allegations against Biden, Lutsenko then met with Trump’s lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in January of 2019. In that meeting, the Ukrainian prosecutor was able to persuade Giuliani that the allegations against Biden were real.
In fact, Giuliani embraced the discredited allegations of Biden “corruption” with such enthusiasm that he waged a months-long campaign to force Ukraine to investigate Biden. Trump also embraced the allegations. His alleged attempt to force the investigation by withholding military aid to Ukraine is now the central charge in the impeachment inquiry.
According to former Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who is now under federal indictment, Trump himself ordered the “mission” to force Ukraine to announce an investigation of Biden.
Cummins told TPM that he did not realize the full significance of the allegations against Biden, or that they were not credible, when he shopped them to federal prosecutors.
“At the time, I didn’t know a whole lot about Ukraine. I didn’t make any real attempt to vet this,” he told the site. Cummins also said that he “didn’t care” what Lutsenko’s motivations may have been in pushing the allegations against Biden.
Apparently, Lutsenko was motivated by his anger at U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, according to an ABC News report.
Lutsenko believed that Yovonavitch “destroyed him” by insisting that he stop using his position as the country’s top prosecutor for personal gain, and turn his attention to rooting out corruption inside his own office, according to the ABC News report.
Trump fired Yovanovitch on May 20, about five months after Giuliani’s initial meeting with Lutsenko.