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 SpicerKrystal Ball: Biden’s third quarter fundraising numbers are ‘pathetic’ White House press secretary defends lack of daily briefings: Trump ‘is the most accessible president in history’ Spicer puts his ‘Dancing with the Stars’ puffy neon green shirt up for charity auction 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 PelosiPelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Trump to hold Louisiana rally for GOP candidates in governor’s race Graham vows to publicly question whistleblowers if Trump is impeached MORE‘s (D-Calif.) announced impeachment inquiry in the House.
In the call, President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House says Turkey will soon launch Syria operation Trump associates pressured Ukraine over gas firm in order to benefit allies: report Trump praises Woodward, slams other journalists over ‘Face the Nation’ segment MORE asked Zelensky to “look into” former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump associates pressured Ukraine over gas firm in order to benefit allies: report Trump praises Woodward, slams other journalists over ‘Face the Nation’ segment Why Elizabeth Warren will fail to shine in her moment on the trail 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.