Rudy Giuliani’s recent return to Ukraine is too much even for one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters in Congress to explain.
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz has become one of the most ferocious Trump supporters during the impeachment hearings, leading a public protest of the initial closed-door interviews and later being shifted over to the House Judiciary Committee so he could defend Trump during the public portion of the hearings. But when asked about the reason that Trump’s personal lawyer returned to Ukraine amid the ongoing impeachment hearings, Gaetz admitted that it didn’t look good.
In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Gaetz said it was “a little weird” to have Giuliani returning to Ukraine this week. As Talking Points Memo noted, the former New York mayor is at the center of the quickly unfolding scandal, where Trump is alleged to have pressured Ukraine into announcing an investigation of political rival Joe Biden.
Giuliani served as Trump’s go-between with Ukrainian leaders and was reportedly a major force in pushing unfounded conspiracies about Biden and Ukraine’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Giuliani returned to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv this week to meet with former Ukrainian prosecutors who are sharing baseless allegations against Biden for the right-wing news outlet, One America News.
Donald Trump has said that Giuliani will report his findings to Congress, but Gaetz could not explain the point of the trip.
“I think it’s a little weird Rudy Giuliani is in the Ukraine right now,” Gaetz said, adding that he is “not here to defend Rudy Giuliani.”
When pressed as to why Giuliani, who works as Trump’s private lawyer and has no actual role in the government, would be involved in official diplomacy that went against the State Department’s approach toward Ukraine, Gaetz again had no answer.
“I don’t know,” Gaetz said, then adding that “our country does have a history of using people in a non-traditional way.”
Gaetz said that Giuliani’s history as a tough prosecutor of the mob in New York City, and the city’s leader after the September 11, 2001, attacks, should give him the benefit of the doubt in the matter, however.
Despite facing an increasingly likely impeachment for his actions to press Ukraine into announcing an investigation of Biden, Trump has continued to press the claims himself, with Gaetz serving as one of his biggest backers. Gaetz has demanded that Democrats call Hunter Biden as a witness in the impeachment hearings, pressing the idea that Hunter was involved in corruption through his position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.