Emboldened after his impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump now openly admits to sending his attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to find damaging information about his political opponents, even though he strongly denied it during the impeachment inquiry.
The reversal came Thursday in a podcast interview Trump did with journalist Geraldo Rivera, who asked, "Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine, your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?" Trump responded, "No, not at all," and praised Giuliani's role as a "crime fighter."
"Here's my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy," Trump said, referring to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump explained that he has "a very bad taste" of the US intelligence community, because of the Russia investigation, so he turned to Giuliani. "So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor," Trump said. "But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers."
Trump had previously denied that he sent Giuliani to Ukraine. Asked in November if he directed Giuliani to "do anything" in Ukraine, Trump said, "No, I didn't direct him," but went on to call Giuliani a "great corruption fighter." Giuliani says he's exposing legitimate corruption in Ukraine, even though his claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden have been widely debunked.
In the new interview, Trump defended the decision to "use" Giuliani, even though US diplomats previously testified that Giuliani had undermined long-standing US policy toward Ukraine.
Ya need a scorecard to figure out who is being investigated by whom.
As the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump drew to a close in Washington earlier this month, federal prosecutors in New York contacted witnesses and sought to collect additional documents in an investigation related to Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to people familiar with their activities.
The recent steps — including an interview with a witness last week — indicate that the probe involving Giuliani and two of his former associates is moving forward, even as the Justice Department has set up a process to evaluate claims Giuliani is making about alleged wrongdoing in Ukraine related to
Attorney General William P. Barr said this week that the department had established an “intake process” to accept information about Biden gathered by the president’s personal attorney. Officials confirmed Giuliani’s tips are being routed to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.
At the same time, the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York — which Giuliani led in the 1980s — appears to be continuing its wide-ranging investigation of his activities and those of his former associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, including their efforts in Ukraine.
Prosecutors from that office recently sought information related to the former U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who the three men pushed Trump to oust, according to a person familiar with the request who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. They have also inquired about two companies with ties to Parnas, who along with Fruman was charged in October with campaign finance violations, according to people with knowledge of the queries.
The parallel developments mean that one part of the Justice Department is scrutinizing Giuliani while another is accepting information from him allegedly concerning a political rival of the president.