Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was on a phone call with Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro last September during heightened tensions between the two nations, according to a new report.
It raises the issue of whether Mr Giuliani used his private role to attempt to influence foreign policy, as questions over his role in Mr Trump’s alleged solicitation of foreign interference from Ukraine in the 2020 election continue to swirl.
The call to Mr Maduro was part of a diplomatic backchannel effort to remove Mr Maduro from power. A spokesman for then-representative Pete Sessions, who was also on the call and a key player in the plan, confirmed the details to the Washington Post.
The White House has not yet said why Giuliani was on the call, which appears to have run counter to the administration’s hardline approach at the time.
Mr Giuliani met then-national security adviser John Bolton around the time of the call to discuss the plan, the report says, but then-national security adviser John Bolton rejected the idea.
When Mr Trump assumed office, he said he would take a stand against Mr Maduro, who won re-election in 2018 with nearly 68 per cent of the vote in May, a ballot rejected by much of the international community over allegations of fraud.
As a result, rival Juan Guaidó was then recognised as president of Venezuela by the US. Mr Sessions formed a back-channel between the US and Mr Maduro, visiting Caracas in an attempt to negotiate a path to better relations between the two nations.
The September 2018 call with Giuliani was reportedly a follow-up from the meeting. Mr Giuliani was reportedly introduced at the start of the call but was quiet during the conversation.