Giuliani: State Dept. asked me to handle Ukraine, rather than use FBI

  • US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, claimed Tuesday that he had been dealing with Ukrainian officials at the request of the State Department.
  • The claim, to Fox News, was a new twist in the spiraling Ukraine scandal, which culminated Tuesday with formal impeachment proceedings beginning against President Donald Trump.
  • Asking Giuliani to handle diplomacy with another country would be highly unusual for the State Department, and the claim was not supported by other evidence.
  • When the Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked why he was a better choice than the Justice Department or the FBI, Giuliani said the FBI’s work was “flawed,” implying he would do better.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, says the reason he became involved in US-Ukrainian relations, now the root of an impeachment inquiry into Trump, is that the State Department asked him to.

Giuliani, in a rambling exchange with the Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Tuesday, claimed that officials asked him to deal with Ukrainian officials directly.

When challenged as to why he would be asked instead of a government agency, perhaps the FBI, Giuliani responded that he was a better choice because the FBI’s work was “flawed.”

“I never talked to an Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to do it,” he told Ingraham. “And then I reported to every conversation back to them.” Business Insider has contacted the State Department about Giuliani’s claims.

Read more: A mysterious exchange between Trump and a foreign leader is Washington’s latest obsession. Here’s what’s actually going on.

He then held up his phone so it could be seen, telling Ingraham: “Laura, I’m a pretty good lawyer, just a country lawyer, but it’s all here, right here. The first call from the State Department.”

Giuliani and President Donald Trump.
Mike Segar/Reuters

Giuliani’s interview took place after The Washington Post published an article citing current and former US officials as saying Giuliani had dealt with Ukrainian officials on behalf of Trump, a strange situation that cut out national security officials in the White House, who The Post said were left reading media reports to work out what Giuliani was doing.

The article said some officials tried to stop Trump from meeting or speaking with Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, out of fear Trump might pressure him to investigate Ukrainian business activities by Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Read more: A Ukraine gas company tied to Joe Biden’s son is at the center of the Trump-whistleblower scandal

One such call went ahead. Its contents are believed to have sparked a whistleblower complaint alleging impropriety by Trump. News of the complaint’s existence unleashed a series of revelations and events that ultimately led to an announcement by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday that she would open a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.

Joe Biden, the former US vice president who is now the 2020 Democratic presidential frontrunner.
Eraldo Peres/AP Images

Trump has confirmed that he discussed Biden on the July call with Zelensky, but he has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. He has said he will release a transcript of the call.

One US official told The Post that Giuliani’s close involvement with Ukraine had caused the current situation.

“Rudy — he did all of this,” the person said. “This s—show that we’re in — it’s him injecting himself into the process.”

When asked by Ingraham why he rather than officials from the FBI or the Department of Justice dealt with Ukraine, Giuliani said: “Because the FBI’s performance in this entire investigation, including up to this moment, is flawed.”

Read more: Nancy Pelosi said there’s one key reason why she finally moved forward on impeachment

He continued: “Why am I doing it, Laura — can’t you figure it out? I’m his defense lawyer. I’m defending him. He’s my client. I don’t know, only Donald Trump is not entitled to a defense in America.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Giuliani had previously told Fox News on Monday that the State Department had asked him to deal with one Ukrainian.

“The State Department called me and said would I take a call from Mr. [Andriy] Yermak, who’s number two or three to the president-elect, who is now the president,” he said then.

Read more: Trump releasing the transcript of his Ukraine call is a distraction from him withholding the whistleblower complaint from Congress

But the State Department then said in a statement to The Hill: “Mr. Giuliani is a private citizen and acts in a personal capacity as a lawyer for President Trump. He does not speak on behalf of the US government.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday announcing the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump.

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