The White House was alerted as early as mid-May — earlier than previously known — that a budding pressure campaign by Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, was rattling the new Ukrainian president, two people with knowledge of the matter tell NBC News.
Alarm bells went off at the National Security Council when the White House's top Europe official was told that Giuliani was pushing the incoming Ukrainian administration to shake up the leadership of state-owned energy giant Naftogaz, said the sources.
The official, Fiona Hill, learned then about the involvement of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Giuliani associates who were helping with the Naftogaz pressure and also with trying to find dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. Hill briefed then-National Security Adviser John Bolton about what she'd been told, said the individuals with knowledge of the meeting.
Hill learned of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's concerns from former U.S. diplomat Amos Hochstein, now a member of Naftogaz's supervisory board.