Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to distance himself from former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who serves as Trump’s personal attorney and at least since early this year, led the effort to force the Ukraine government to investigate Democratic 2020 frontrunner, Joe Biden.
On November 6, Giuliani said in a tweet that his “investigation” into the Ukraine “collusion and corruption” was carried out “solely” as a defense attorney to defend his client against “false charges,” as quoted by Bloomberg News.
But on Tuesday, Trump seemed to say that Giuliani was referring to a different, as yet unknown client. In an online interview with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, Trump denied that he ordered Giuliani to undertake the Ukraine mission to dig up dirt on a potential 2020 election rival.
“No, I didn’t direct him, but he is a warrior, he is a warrior,” Trump told O’Reilly, as quoted by Bloomberg.
“Rudy has other clients, other than me. He’s done a lot of work in Ukraine over the years.”
When asked why Giuliani undertook the mission to extract the Biden investigation from Ukraine, Trump simply demurred, telling O’Reilly, “you have to ask that to Rudy.”
Despite Trump’s denial, indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas reportedly met face-to-face with both Trump and Giuliani in December of 2018. At that White House meeting, Trump allegedly told Parnas that he wanted him to go on a “mission” to Ukraine to get the desired Biden investigation started.
In addition to Giuliani’s own claim that his actions in Ukraine were undertaken “solely” on Trump’s behalf, Trump himself is on the record involving Giuliani in the Ukraine pressure campaign.
In his July 25 phone call with that country’s newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump tells the Ukrainian leader, “I would like him to call you,” referring to Giuliani. A partial transcript of that call — which is now at the center of the impeachment inquiry into Trump’s alleged abuse of power — remains available online via the White House site.
“Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy,” Trump told Zelensky in the July 25 call, according to the transcript. “If you could speak to him that would be great.”
Earlier in the conversation, Trump tells Zelensky, “I will tell Rudy and Attorney General (William) Barr to call.”
As Bloomberg reported, witnesses so far in the impeachment inquiry have testified that Giuliani was the ringleader of a “shadow United States foreign policy” in Ukraine, the purpose of which was “aimed at securing the investigations Trump desired.”