Former Trump officials and campaign advisers for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly met at Trump International Hotel months before the July phone call between the leaders that is now at the center of a whistleblower complaint.
Zelensky's campaign advisers had dinner on April 16 with Mike Rubino, a former Trump campaign adviser and former representative in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Matt Mowers, a former State Department member, CNBC reported. Former White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPsaki defends move to oust Trump appointees from military academy boards Defense & National Security: The post-airlift evacuation struggle Conway and Spicer fire back at White House over board resignation requests MORE also made a short appearance.
The dinner at the hotel's BLT Prime restaurant reportedly took place just more than a week before Zelensky won Ukraine's presidential election.
Zelensky's campaign had hired Signal Group Consulting for $60,000 to set up meetings with government officials before he won the election. Executives from the group also attended the dinner, according to CNBC.
Rubino said in an interview with CNBC that he did not know the people he met with were from Zelensky's campaign.
“Honestly, I think Signal was trying to impress them,” Rubino said. “I just did it as a favor. I showed up, sat down, ate dinner and left. I didn’t really speak to anybody because they spoke in a different language.”
Spicer added in an interview with CNBC that he was introduced to a member of the campaign team but did not know if he was the campaign's leader.
“They introduced me to the campaign guy,” Spicer said in an interview. “I had every impression that they [Signal] were trying to impress this client,” he added.
The dinner occurred months before the call between the presidents, which has been at the center of the whistleblower report and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Democrats suffer blow on drug pricing as 3 moderates buck party MORE's (D-Calif.) announced impeachment inquiry in the House.
In the call, President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE asked Zelensky to "look into" former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE and his son Hunter Biden.
A spokesman from Signal told The Hill in a statement that the Bidens were not discussed at the meeting.
"At no time during the delegation’s April visit was there any mention of an investigation of the Biden family or any related topic," John Procter, the firm’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The Hill reached out to the Trump Organization and the White House for comment.