Trump lavished praise on Giuliani, then hinted he may throw him under the bus by denying any knowledge of a letter his attorney sent Ukraine's president
- Trump on Thursday claimed not to know about a letter in which Rudy Giuliani claimed to be acting with the president's "knowledge and consent" in Ukraine.
- "I don't know anything about the letter, but certainly Rudy is one of the great crime fighters in the history of our country," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
- The letter was released by impeachment investigators on Tuesday, and was used by Giuliani as he sought an interview with Ukraine's president.
- In the letter, Giuliani claimed to be acting with Trump's full "knowledge and consent" in Ukraine.
- It is one of the most significant pieces of evidence to emerge in the impeachment probe, apparently directly linking Trump to Giuliani's quest for Biden dirt.
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President Donald Trump Thursday sent mixed signals about his attorney Rudy Giuliani, lavishing praise on him, but also denying any knowledge of a letter in which Giuliani claimed to be working with his "knowledge and consent" when seeking to drum up damaging information on Joe Biden in Ukraine.
"I don't know anything about the letter, but certainly Rudy is one of the great crime fighters in the history of our country," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
"He was also the greatest mayor in the history of the New York."
"Having him on my side is a great honor for me," Trump continued, saying that Giuliani did "a phenomenal job over a long period of time in fighting crime."
"I didn't know about a specific letter, but if he wrote a letter it wouldn't be a big deal," Trump said.
The letter - released Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee - had been submitted by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Giuliani arrested on election finance charges in October, as part of the impeachment investigation into Trump.
Parnas helped Giuliani broker contacts in Ukraine as part of a bid to substantiate unsubstantiated and damaging accusations against Joe Biden, a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In the letter, Giuliani claimed to be acting with Trump's full "knowledge and consent" when he sought an audience last May with Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine's president. Giuliani and his associates sought to pressure Zelensky into announcing a probe into Biden over work done by his son Hunter for Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm.
Democrats claim the letter is one of the most incriminating pieces of evidence to emerge against the president, saying it direct links him to Giuliani's attempt to enlist a foreign power to smear a domestic rival.
Trump and his defenders have claimed that he was simply seeking to tackle corruption in Ukraine when he urged Zelensky to investigate the Bidens in the July 25 phone call which sparked the impeachment probe.
But Parnas' evidence leaves little doubt that the main target was the Bidens, and he claimed in an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow this week that Trump was in on it all along.
Trump has also denied knowing Parnas, who has replied by saying that he will release a new picture of himself with the president every time Trump denies knowing him.
Giuliani has previously hinted that he has "insurance" should Trump decide to set him up as a fall guy amid the impeachment scandal.
The president has continued to send conflicting signals, praising the former New York mayor while distancing himself from his campaign for Biden dirt in November.
Trump claims that he doesn't know "anything about the letter" Rudy Giuliani wrote to Zelensky requesting a private meeting but adds that "if he wrote a letter, it wouldn't have been a big deal."- Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 16, 2020
"It was very important to Rudy that I be a great president, and that's okay with me" pic.twitter.com/WWSV8dWrGb