President Trump tried to distance himself from his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s efforts related to Ukraine on Tuesday in an interview with radio host Bill O’Reilly. In the interview for BillOReilly.com, O’Reilly asked the president what Giuliani was “doing in Ukraine on your behalf.”
“Well, you have to ask that to Rudy, but Rudy, I don’t, I don’t even know,” said Mr. Trump. “I know he was going to go to Ukraine, and I think he canceled a trip,” the president continued. “But, you know, Rudy has other clients, other than me. I’m one person.”
Mr. Trump then denied that he had ever directed Giuliani to go to Ukraine on his behalf. However, in May the New York Times reported that Giuliani had planned to go to Ukraine that month, to urge the government there to open several investigations that could aid the president.
“There’s nothing illegal about it,” Giuliani told the Times in early May. “Somebody could say it’s improper, and this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already.”
“[T]hat information will be very, very helpful to my client,” he predicted, “and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
Giuliani was clear when speaking with the Times about the identity of that client. “My only client is the president of the United States,” Giuliani said. “He’s the one I have an obligation to report to, tell him what happened.” Soon after the Times story was published, Giuliani canceled his trip.
Over the past two months, several current and former administration officials have confirmed Giuliani played an outsize role in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship, describing in testimony a campaign by Mr. Trump and his allies, led by Giuliani, to pressure the Ukrainian government for political favors.
O’Reilly again pressed Mr. Trump on whether he had asked Giuliani to travel to Ukraine, or to pressure the U.S. ally.
“Giuliani’s your personal lawyer,” O’Reilly said. “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, but he’s a warrior, Rudy’s a warrior. Rudy went, he possibly saw something. But you have to understand, Rudy, has other people that he represents,” Mr. Trump said.
The president made it sound as though he did not necessarily have firsthand information about Giuliani’s work in Ukraine, that he had “heard” about it or “read that someplace.”