Giuliani lobbied DOJ for Venezuelan businessman who claimed to help Guaidó: report
President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani reportedly urged Justice Department prosecutors to go easy on a Venezuelan businessman under criminal investigation after the client said he secretly helped fund the Venezuelan opposition leader’s attempt to take control from President Nicolás Maduro.
The businessman, Alejandro Betancourt, introduced Giuliani to opposition leader Juan Guaidó’s father at an event in Spain as part of the leniency campaign for Betancourt, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
A month later, Giuliani urged Justice Department prosecutors to go easy on Betancourt in its probe of his connection with a Florida money laundering and bribery case, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting and Giuliani’s former associate Lev Parnas told Reuters.
Parnas reportedly said Giuliani told him about the meeting soon afterward.
The Washington Post reported on Giuliani’s lobbying on behalf of Betancourt in November, but Reuters is the first to report Betancourt told Giuliani he financially supported Venezuela’s opposition and that Giuliani touted that as a reason for prosecutors to ease up the investigation.
Giuliani declined to confirm to Reuters if he had met with prosecutors on behalf of Betancourt, and he would not say if the businessman is his client.
“Lev Parnas has no right to be talking about that meeting,” Giuliani said. “It was a confidential meeting — if it did happen.”
“Lev Parnas’s credibility is worth nothing,” Giuliani added.
A spokesperson for Giuliani was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill.
The Justice Department declined to comment to Reuters. A department spokesperson was not immediately available when contacted by The Hill.
Guaidó denied receiving funding from Betancourt, and Guaidó’s father, Wilmer Guaidó, denied meeting Betancourt in Spain.
“I do not know Mr. Betancourt, there is no relationship,” Juan Guaidó told Reuters. “As such, that is not possible.”
The U.S. and dozens of other nations have recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful president since last year, but Maduro has remained in power.
Parnas was indicted for and pleaded not guilty to campaign finance violations last year. He is reportedly looking for ways to work with the prosecutors who are seeking more details on Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine.
Parnas provided information to House Democrats detailing communications about the pressure campaign in Ukraine central to Trump’s impeachment.