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 Spicer 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 Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) announced impeachment inquiry in the House.
In the call, President Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” former Vice President Joe Biden 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.
MMH reached out to the Trump Organization and the White House for comment.