Trump Defends Giuliani Amid Deepening Ukraine Criminal Probe

The New York Times 5 days ago

President Trump bristled at accounts on Saturday that his personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had become a focus of a widening criminal investigation into his dealings in Ukraine, insisting that Mr. Giuliani was a “crime buster” and target of a “witch hunt.”

On Twitter, Mr. Trump referred to Mr. Giuliani’s background as the former New York City mayor and a one-time federal prosecutor.

“So now they are after the legendary ‘crime buster’ and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani,” Mr. Trump wrote. “He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer. Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”

On Friday, Mr. Trump was far less emphatic when asked if Mr. Giuliani was still his personal lawyer.

“Well, I don’t know,” Mr. Trump said as he left the White House for a campaign rally in Louisiana. “I haven’t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He’s a very good attorney and he has been my attorney.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday about Mr. Giuliani’s status.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are scrutinizing whether Mr. Giuliani violated federal lobbying laws with his dealings in Ukraine, especially his role in undermining Marie L. Yovanovitch, the ousted American ambassador to Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, The New York Times reported on Friday.

Mr. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but acknowledged participating in an effort to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump’s political adversaries, particularly former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. That effort is the focus of a parallel impeachment probe in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Trump’s full-throated defense of Mr. Giuliani came less than 72 hours after two of Mr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested on Wednesday night with one-way tickets to Frankfurt at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington.

The two men were charged with making illegal campaign donations, said Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, a position once held by Mr. Giuliani.

While the indictments did not accuse Mr. Trump of wrongdoing, Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman helped Mr. Trump’s efforts to gather damaging information in Ukraine on his political opponents, particularly former Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

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