Controversial Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach has close ties to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and was appointed earlier this summer by the U.S. intelligence community to support Moscow’s ongoing efforts to weaken Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Derkach has now been explicitly declared a Russian agent by the US government and has been sanctioned for trying to influence the upcoming elections.
“Andrei Derkach and other Russian agents are using manipulation and fraud to try to influence elections in the United States and elsewhere in the world,” Finance Minister Stephen Mnuchin said in a statement Thursday, which was included in a statement from the Ministry of Finance. which states that Derkach is “an active Russian agent for more than a decade”
“The United States will continue to use all the tools at its disposal to oppose these Russian disinformation campaigns and to maintain the integrity of our electoral system,” Mnuchin added.
Thursday’s announcement was a remarkable step by the U.S. government to publicly condemn Russia’s continued interference in the 2020 election. It shows how some parts of the U.S. government are cracking down on Russia’s interference against Biden, while Trump openly accepts Russia’s efforts and does not declares against him.
The news also relies on Giuliani, who is collaborating with Derkach to distribute materials against Biden during Trump’s impeachment. Now the statement from the Ministry of Finance means that Giuliani cooperated with an “active Russian agent”, which is the type of behavior that led to allegations of a secret agreement between Russia and Trump in the 2016 elections. Asked about the news, Giuliani sent a message to CNN “Who cares.”
The Treasury Department said Derkach had conducted a long-running “covert campaign of influence” that focused on “cultivating false and unsubstantiated stories affecting U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 presidential election.”
Derkach has been added to a list of specially designated citizens, meaning his assets are blocked and “Americans are usually barred from dealing with them,” according to the Treasury Department.
Derkach is among a small group of Ukrainian political figures who injected themselves in the 2020 election last year, promoting suspicious allegations of corruption against Biden and releasing alleged audio tapes of Biden’s diplomatic work as vice president.
He worked closely with Giuliani to distribute anti-Biden material, much of which was also accepted by Republican lawmakers and right-wing sites such as OANN, according to CNN and Derkach’s public statements.
The Treasury Department’s statement did not mention the name Giuliani or OANN, but said Derkach targeted “prominent American figures” and used “American platforms” to spread his message.
Derkach did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment on Thursday.
The recordings are from Biden’s relationship with Petro Poroshenko, the former Ukrainian president, and look authentic.
The material confirms Biden’s claims that he promoted US interests and did nothing wrong in Ukraine. There is no evidence of tape mismanagement, and Biden’s campaign claims that these publications are outright Russian interference against the former vice president.
Derkach’s role in the Russian intervention operation began “at least in late 2019.” during the investigation into Trump’s impeachment and continued until the middle of this year, when he began playing audiocassettes, the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Derkach is involved in “false and unsubstantiated stories” about US officials, the statement said, citing Biden clearly, although the news release did not mention anyone by name.
Remarkably, even the Treasury Department acknowledges that Derkach was an active Russian agent with close ties to Russian intelligence and describes the story he promotes as “false and unfounded,” and the US president continues to insist on the same false allegations. slander, “spokesman Adam Schiff, chairman of the Democratic Party’s House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Thursday.
Democrats also accuse Derkach of sending information to both Senate Security Secretary Ron Johnson and Republicans Devin Nunes, Republicans who have called for an investigation into Biden and accepted questionable allegations about his dealings with Ukraine. Johnson denied receiving anything from Derkach, accusing Democrats of spreading Russian misinformation.
Last week, a group of Senate Democrats sent a letter to Mnuchin urging him to sanction those who interfere in the 2020 election in the United States following a statement from the intelligence community.
The three Russian citizens who were also sanctioned on Thursday – Artem Lifshitz, Anton Andreev and Daria Aslanova – work for a Russian troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), according to the finance ministry.
Special Adviser Robert Mueller concluded that the IRA interfered in the 2016 presidential election and aggressively promoted Trump’s candidacy on social media.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb contributed reports.