President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Saturday that he’s not aware he’s under investigation for his involvement with the unraveling Ukraine scandal, calling it a “political attack.”
When asked if he was, Giulani told CNN: “No, nothing but leaks, which has to tell you whether they are or are not investigating, it’s a political attack. Otherwise, why leak it?”
“If it’s an appropriate law enforcement investigation, you try to keep it secret so the subjects aren’t alerted,” he added.
Earlier Saturday, the President defended Giuliani – a day after Trump tried distancing himself from his lawyer – in the wake of a report that Giuliani is the target of federal investigators. The New York Times reported Friday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan are looking into whether Giuliani violated foreign lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.
The former New York City mayor has also been swept up in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions related to Ukraine.
Trump said Saturday night in an interview with Fox News that he knows “nothing” about Giuliani being under investigation, and he “can’t imagine it.”
“I know he’s an honorable man,” Trump said. “I stand behind Rudy Giuliani, absolutely.”
Trump also denied knowing the two Giuliani associates arrested last week, but admitted they had donated to his campaign. “They’re donors,” Trump said, “but I have many donors.”
“Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!” Trump added, perpetuating his baseless claim that bureaucrats are out to get him. It was unclear from the President’s tweet whether he was attacking his own Justice Department or the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
The Times reported Friday that the investigation into Giuliani was tied to that of two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were indicted this week for allegedly funneling foreign money into US elections. Investigators are looking into Giuliani’s attempts to subvert Marie Yovanovitch, the former American ambassador to Ukraine.
The story builds upon CNN’s reporting from Thursday that investigators overseeing Parnas and Fruman’s case are scrutinizing Giuliani’s financial dealings with them.
Giuliani told the newspaper that his efforts in Ukraine were appropriate and asserted that any alleged federal lobbying disclosure violations were baseless.
According to the indictment, Fruman and Parnas had asked a US congressman, who is not named but appears to be former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, to help get Yovanovitch fired at the same time they committed to raising tens of thousands of dollars for that congressman’s reelection.
Behind closed doors Friday, Yovanovitch had detailed to Congress how Giuliani smeared her to Ukrainian officials and questioned whether Parnas and Fruman were looking to benefit financially from her removal.
Trump on Giuliani: ‘He’s a very good attorney’
On Friday, Trump wouldn’t say whether Giuliani was still his personal attorney.
“Well, I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday, briefly. He’s a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney, yeah, sure,” he told reporters on the White House South Lawn.
When asked later on Friday by CNN if he was still Trump’s attorney, Giuliani responded, “Yes.”
A source close to Trump’s legal team told CNN that Giuliani is currently the President’s attorney, but will not be dealing with matters involving Ukraine.
During a July 25 phone call, Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, and suggested to Zelensky that he work with Giuliani. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.
Giuliani told CNN that Parnas and Fruman had started in 2018 introducing him to former and current Ukrainian officials, who provided information that Giuliani claims is damaging to some of Trump’s political enemies, including Biden.
The call formed, in part, a whistleblower’s complaint released in September that alleged Trump solicited interference from Ukraine in the 2020 election. Trump has denied he’s done anything improper and accused House Democrats of presidential harassment with their impeachment inquiry.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak, Pamela Brown, Kate Sullivan and Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.