Foreign agents introduced Ukranian politician to US political figures in secretive lobbying arrangement

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Yulia Tymoshenko (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A failed Ukrainian presidential candidate. Former congressmen turned lobbyists. Mysterious shell companies and offshore accounts funding it all.

Foreign agents and lobbyists accused of orchestrating a disinformation campaign attacking former Ukrainian Prime Minister and 2019 presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko actually introduced her to key U.S. political players last year, an investigation by the Center for Responsive Responsive Politics has found.

New FARA records reveal foreign agents and lobbyists on the payroll of Livingston Group, a lobbying firm run by former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), played a previously unreported role in Tymoshenko’s meetings with lawmakers during a December 2018 trip to Washington, D.C., including House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

That week, former Congressman-turned-lobbyist Bob McEwen (R-Ohio) also quietly introduced Tymoshenko to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s attorney who joined Trump’s personal legal team amidst special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Giuliani is under scrutiny for his simultaneous “shadow lobbying” operations for foreign clients, including Ukrainian interests.

Dated photographs from Tymoshenko’s website corroborate that the meetings took place, touting discussions about “ways to counteract hybrid aggression, in particular fighting Russian propaganda.” Notably absent, however, is any mention of the lobbyists and foreign agents operating behind the scenes.

Schiff’s office confirmed that Livingston attended Tymoshenko’s meeting with the congressman.

Even after Tymoshenko publicly distanced herself from other opaque lobbying arrangements, the Livingston Group inked their $50,000-per-month contract — with a six-figure upfront payment — to represent a mysterious limited-liability company called Innovative Technology and Business Consulting LLC. That company was incorporated in the state of Maryland as “ITBC LLC” just weeks earlier.

Although the Livingston Group’s paperwork registering as a foreign agent of ITBC LLC includes no mention of Tymoshenko, informational materials in CRP’s Foreign Lobby Watch database contain a letter from Livingston stating Tymoshenko’s intent to travel to Washington, D.C., last summer. She offered to travel to the United States before President Donald Trump’s 2018 meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16 “if it would be helpful.”

After criticism in Ukraine, Tymoshenko issued a strong statement calling the lobbying campaigns a “special operation against my discredit.” She publicly pledged “We will seek these people, we will refute this information, and we will demand that they also deny it. We did not sign any contracts.”

The Livingston Group’s lobbyists are not the only influence agents with deep ties to Tymoshenko shepherding “dark money”-funded influence operations.

Weeks before the first round of this year’s Ukrainian presidential election, Washington law firm Wiley Rein submitted an amendment to DOJ admitting Tymoshenko has been the “principal beneficiary” of FARA activities for a mysterious entity called Aveiro LP.

It also confirmed that Wiley Rain continued lobbying work dating back to at least 2011 “for the principal benefit of Yulia Tymoshenko” through her husband, Oleksandr Tymoshenko. “Activities reported under Aveiro LP have been to promote the interests of Yulia Tymoshenko and her political party,” including foreign lobbying activities such as meeting with members of Congress.

Wiley Rein’s most recent supplemental statement does make one mention of Livingston, placing him at a meeting with an aide to U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker on Dec. 4, 2018, to discuss the “situation in Ukraine.” Wiley Rein’s disclosure makes no mention of Tymoshenko attending that meeting, but the new FARA disclosures filed by the Livingston Group indicate Tymoshenko met with Volker and other State Department officials that same day, accompanied by Livingston and another lobbyist at his firm.

Tymoshenko’s name is nowhere to be found in Wiley Rein’s disclosure of many other meetings submitted to DOJ. However, Livingston’s FARA disclosure indicates Tymoshenko did attend meetings involving some of the same individuals listed in Wiley Rein’s filing, on the same dates Wiley Rein reported meeting with them.

Federal regulations require any supplemental statement submitted to DOJ to be “complete in and of itself” and do not permit “incorporation of information by reference,” prohibiting foreign agents from claiming to have included information by reference to something that is not included in the record.

Unlike Wiley Rein’s admission following reporting piecing together the firm’s extensive entanglements with Tymoshenko, ITBC LLC made no such confession and the limited-liability company’s ties have required more digging.

Tymoshenko, who placed third in Ukraine’s recent presidential election, is no stranger to this sort of subterfuge. Investigations referred by special counsel Robert Mueller uncovered a controversial report and other “black ops” targeting the former Ukrainian prime minister. The foreign influence operation implicated former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, former Trump aide Rick Gates, former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig and lobbying powerhouse Skadden Arps.

The new information that foreign agents were secretly attending meetings with Tmyosehenko and introducing her to U.S. political figures puts the other opaque entities bankrolling foreign lobbying operations — especially those with ties to Tymoshenko — into question.

In addition to foreign agents ostensibly representing Tymoshenko’s interests, the source of funding behind foreign influence operations allegedly intended to boost the profile of incoming Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the days leading up to Ukraine’s presidential election runoff remain a mystery. The campaign was orchestrated by Signal Group Consulting, a fully-owned subsidiary of Wiley Rein, whose FARA records all list Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko as a primary beneficiary.

These loose threads come at the start of Zelensky’s new presidential administration and the early departure of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat.

Although Tymoshenko’s bid in Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election was unsuccessful, she remains a prominent political figure on the world stage and the foreign agents working covertly on her behalf have not formally terminated that relationship.

Tymoshenko, Giuliani, and Cotton’s Senate office did not respond to multiple requests for comment before publication.

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