Rudy Giuliani, in his capacity as one of Donald Trump’s personal lawyers, has an amazing habit of saying the darnedest things.
The former New York City mayor has already admitted pressuring Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in order to help his client in the Oval Office – something Giuliani considers entirely proper. Last night, he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that State Department asked him to pursue such efforts.
HANNITY: You didn’t get involved in this on your own. Did our State Department ask you to go on a mission for them?
GIULIANI: They did. I was called by the State –
HANNITY: And you’re a good citizen and you went?
GIULIANI: The State Department called me and said, would I take a call from Mr. Yermak, who’s number two or three to the president-elect, now the president. I was put together with Mr. Earmach. I talked to him he gave me enormously important facts. I conveyed them all to the State Department – unlike the media lies, fake news, I wasn’t operating on my own. I was operating at the request of the State Department.
This roughly dovetails with a Wall Street Journal report from the weekend, which said that Giuliani, according to his own account, met with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to the Ukrainian president, as part of a meeting that had been “set up by the State Department.”
As a rule, taking Giuliani’s rhetoric at face value makes about as much sense as taking Donald Trump’s rhetoric at face value. It’s entirely possible, if not likely, that the former mayor will walk all of this back, perhaps even claiming he didn’t say what a national audience heard him say.
But in case this isn’t obvious, if the U.S. State Department was directly involved in dispatching the president’s private lawyer to Ukraine, as part of a political scheme intended to help Trump’s re-election campaign, it will make the already damaging story quite a bit worse.
Speaking of Giuliani, the Republican lawyer told CNN last week, in reference to his efforts in Ukraine, “I did what I did on my own, and then I told [Trump] about it afterwards. Because I’m his lawyer.”
Over the weekend, however, the Washington Post asked Giuliani whether Trump had given the lawyer’s efforts his presidential blessing. Giuliani replied, “I don’t do anything that involves my client without speaking with my client.”
Those two answers don’t seem to line up perfectly.
Update: On Face the Nation over the weekend, CBS News’ Margaret Brennan asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not only whether he considered Giuliani’s efforts “appropriate,” but also, “Has the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine been providing support, the State Department been supporting what he’s doing?”
Pompeo replied that he’s “not going to talk about that.”