Giuliani: Trump still backs effort to dig up dirt in Ukraine
Rudy Giuliani told CNN that President Donald Trump has been “very supportive” of his continued efforts to dig up dirt on Democrats in Ukraine, including his most recent trip to the Eastern European country.
The admission bolsters a central Democratic argument of the impeachment proceedings: that the President has allowed his personal attorney to push Ukraine for investigations that benefit Trump’s political agenda.
In a phone conversation with CNN on Tuesday, Giuliani suggested that Trump has been well aware of everything he has done in Ukraine, though he declined to say if Trump directed him to go on his most recent trip there.
“We’re on the same page,” Giuliani said of Trump.
Visiting Ukraine earlier this month, Giuliani claims he gathered evidence of a wide-ranging conspiracy to prevent his and the President’s efforts to uncover years of corruption there. In Giuliani’s view, that corruption chiefly involves Trump’s domestic political opponents, including Joe Biden as well as Hillary Clinton.
Unprompted, Giuliani emphasized that he and the President are “on offense” when it comes to pursuing dirt on Democrats.
“Just in case you think we’re on defense, we’re not,” Giuliani said. In recent days, he has given a series of interviews about his Ukraine exploits to national news outlets, including The New York Times, Fox News and the New Yorker. Giuliani’s comments come as Democrats in the House prepare to vote on articles of impeachment against the President.
In his interview with CNN, Giuliani spoke at length about former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from office earlier this year and has become a central figure in the impeachment inquiry. Giuliani claimed Yovanovitch perjured herself during her congressional testimony last month and that she should be charged with obstruction of justice.
He declined to offer specific evidence that would back up his claim, though he insisted he has it.
The former New York City mayor told CNN he spoke with Trump as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about removing Yovanovitch last spring. CNN has previously reported that Giuliani delivered a group of documents to Pompeo about Yovanovitch.
Giuliani also admitted he pushed for her ouster because she was interfering with his work to dig up dirt on Democrats on behalf of Trump. He has long complained that the ambassador blocked some of his Ukrainian sources from coming to the United States.
When asked specifically why he pushed the issue with Trump and Pompeo, Giuliani said Yovanovitch had been “blocking witnesses to come to the United States and she had been doing it for a year.”
CNN has previously reported that Giuliani tried to lean on the State Department to grant disgraced former Ukrainian prosecutor-general Viktor Shokin a visa, which was denied.
Shokin, along with his successor Yuriy Lutsenko, have been the source of Giuliani’s unsubstantiated claim that Joe Biden, as vice president, improperly intervened in a Ukrainian investigation into an energy company on whose board his son, Hunter Biden, sat. Another claim provided by these two Ukrainain ex-officials is that Democrats colluded with Ukrainians in the 2016 election.
There’s been no proof of either of these claims, despite Giuliani making them in public statements and media appearances for the last several months.
Responding to reports that the current attorney general, William Barr, is frustrated with Giuliani’s rogue fact-gathering operation, Giuliani downplayed any objections from the administration.
“I haven’t heard that from the President. I think he would tell me,” Giuliani said. “I would think that if Bill Barr has a real complaint about me, President Trump would have told me that. And I’ve been told by mutual friends that it’s not true.”
Pompeo, meanwhile, has refused to comment about his view of Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine. In an interview with a Kansas radio station on October 24, Pompeo did not answer repeated questions about whether he approved of what Giuliani was doing.