Giuliani Pals Leveraged GOP Access to Seek Ukraine Gas Deal
Andrew Favorov, the No. 2 at Ukraine’s state-run gas company Naftogaz, says he sat on a red leather bench seat and listened wide-eyed as the men boasted of their connections to President Donald Trump and proposed a deal to sell large quantities of liquified natural gas from Texas to Ukraine.
But first, Favorov says, they told him they would have to remove two obstacles: Favorov’s boss and the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
Favorov says he hardly took the proposal at the early March meeting seriously. The men, who sported open shirts showing off thick gold chains at a conference where most wore business attire, had zero experience in the gas business. And it wasn’t plausible to Favorov that they would be able to oust his boss, never mind remove a U.S. ambassador.
What he didn’t know as he sipped whiskey that evening was that high-ranking officials in the Ukrainian government were already taking steps to topple his boss, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev. And two months later, Trump recalled U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat with a reputation as an anti-corruption crusader.