Either emboldened after his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial or comfortable on the show of a longtime friend, President Trump told Geraldo Rivera on his podcast on Thursday that he had, in fact, sent his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. When Rivera asked if Trump if it was “strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine” and if he regretted the decision, Trump said, “No, not at all.”
“Here’s my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy,” Trump said, referring to James Comey, who gave him a “very bad taste” of the capabilities of American intelligence after the former FBI director maintained the independence of the agency in the early days of the administration. Thus, Trump had to “use” Giuliani to solicit foreign interference in an American election.
“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, before reiterating his long-held wish for an effective fixer. “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’s statement on Thursday contradicts past denials on the matter, including his claim in November that he “didn’t direct” Giuliani in Ukraine — despite the testimony of multiple administration officials stating otherwise. Indeed, in his July 25 call pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens, Trump also stated otherwise. “Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man,” the president said. “He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor, and I would like him to call you … Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him that would be great.”
Trump is making a habit out of publicly countering party defenses of his actions in the Ukraine scandal. In October, when it was becoming clear that he could face impeachment for pressuring foreign countries to investigate his political rivals, he solicited more investigations into the Bidens from Ukraine and China, in front of reporters on the White House lawn.