In an interview with former Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly, Trump said he didn’t direct his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to go to Ukraine to pressure the country’s leaders to investigate Biden.
The statement marks Trump’s strongest effort yet to distance himself from the actions of his personal lawyer. It also contrasts with the testimony of multiple witnesses who have said during the impeachment hearings that Trump told them to “go talk to Rudy.”
In the interview, which was posted online Tuesday night, O’Reilly asked Trump what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine on his behalf.
“Well, you have to ask that to Rudy, but Rudy — I don’t, I don’t even know,” Trump replied. “I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled a trip. But, you know, Rudy has other clients other than me. I’m one person.”
Later in the interview, O’Reilly again asked Trump whether he had asked Giuliani to go to Ukraine.
“Rudy Giuliani, he’s your personal lawyer,” O’Reilly said. “Giuliani’s your personal lawyer. So you didn’t direct him to go to Ukraine to do anything or put any heat on them?”
“No, I didn’t direct him,” Trump replied. “But he’s a warrior. Rudy’s a warrior. Rudy went. He possibly saw something.”
He added that Giuliani has “done work in Ukraine for years.”
“I mean, that’s what I heard,” Trump said. “I might have even read that someplace. But he’s a good man and he’s an honorable guy and he’s a great crime fighter, corruption fighter.”
Giuliani’s name came up several times in Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelensky, according to a rough transcript released by the White House.
Zelensky told Trump that his assistants had spoken with Giuliani and “we are hoping very much” that he would be able to travel to Ukraine.
According to the rough transcript, Trump repeatedly told Zelensky to work with Giuliani and Attorney General William P. Barr.
“Rudy very much knows what’s happening, and he is a very capable guy,” Trump said, according to the transcript.