President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has reversed course and said that he will no longer travel to Ukraine to push for that country to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.
Giuliani told CNN’s Michael Warren on Saturday that he is not going to meet with Ukraine’s president-elect because “the meeting would have accomplished little and may be in the hands of those who might misrepresent it.”
Giuliani, speaking on Fox News late Friday night, said he had decided not to go on the trip to avoid potential “enemies of the President.”
“I’m not gonna go,” he said, “because I think I’m walking into a group of people that are enemies of the President, in some cases enemies of the United States and, in one case, an already convicted person who has been found to be involved in assisting the Democrats with the 2016 election.”
It wasn’t immediately clear to whom Giuliani was referring.
The news came hours after Trump had told Politico in an interview that he planned to speak with Giuliani about the trip.
Earlier on Friday, Giuliani had defended going to Ukraine to press the country’s leadership for an investigation into Biden’s call to remove a top Ukrainian official in 2016, when Biden was vice president. Biden called for the removal of the top Ukrainian prosecutor, who at one point had been investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Biden’s son, Hunter.
Within a year of the prosecutor’s removal, Ukraine’s new prosecutor general dismissed the case against the company, Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company controlled by one of Ukraine’s top oligarchs. Other Western governments also called for his ouster, and no evidence has indicated that the move by Biden was inappropriate.
The Biden campaign has previously declined to comment further and referred CNN to a statement a spokeswoman provided to The New York Times, which says Biden acted on Ukraine “without any regard for how it would or would not impact” Hunter’s business interests.
Giuliani had told CNN earlier Friday that the trip to Ukraine to seek to influence potential investigations would not have been meddling because the 2020 election is more than a year away. Democrats have decried the trip as politically motivated.
“I don’t want any favors. I just want this investigated,” Giuliani said.
Giuliani had previously told CNN that a “well-regarded investigator” he’s known for years put him in touch last November with current and former Ukrainian officials, who he says he’s interviewed over Skype and in person. In 2017, both the Democratic National Committee and a contractor denied working with Ukrainians.
But Giuliani’s story had some holes. According to a report from Bloomberg, the Ukrainian government’s case against Burisma had been “dormant” since 2014, two years before Biden successfully pushed to remove the prosecutor general. Biden was also joined in his anti-corruption push against the prosecutor by numerous leaders in Europe as well as the International Monetary Fund – none of whom had any family ties to Burisma.
In the Fox News interview, Giuliani said he won’t go to Ukraine, “in order to remove any political suggestion.”
“I will step back and I’ll just watch it unfold,” he said.
Trump had told Politico earlier Friday that the trip could have been a “big situation” for the former vice president. Trump did not elaborate in the portion of the interview published by Politico.
The President said he hadn’t yet spoken to Giuliani about the trip, but that he was interested in the topic.
“I will speak to him about it before he leaves. I’m just curious about that,” Trump said, adding he has “not spoken to (Giuliani) at any great length” on the subject.
The President echoed Giuliani’s previous statements that the media is not paying enough attention to the story.
“Because he’s a Democrat it’s about 1/100 the size of the fact that if he were a Republican, it would be a lot bigger.”
Trump told Politico he has not discussed the potential issue with Attorney General William Barr and has not asked him to start an investigation into the Biden family. But it “certainly it would be an appropriate thing to” discuss with him, Trump said.
“Certainly it is a very big issue and we’ll see what happens. I have not spoken to him about it. Would I speak to him about it? I haven’t thought of that. I mean, you’re asking me a question I just haven’t thought of,” Trump said.
This story has been updated.
CNN’s Michael Warren contributed to this report.