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 quickly briefed then-National Security Adviser John Bolton about what she’d been told, said the individuals with knowledge of the meeting.

The revelation significantly moves up the timeline of when the White House learned that Trump’s allies had engaged with the incoming Ukrainian administration and were acting in ways that unnerved the Ukrainians — even before President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had been sworn in. Biden had entered the presidential race barely three weeks earlier.