President Donald Trump contradicted his legal team's impeachment defense Thursday when he admitted that he sent his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to hunt for damaging information on his political rivals.
Trump made the comment during a podcast interview with Fox News' Geraldo Rivera despite previously claiming that he "didn't direct" Giuliani to go to Ukraine.
"Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine? Your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?" Rivera asked.
"No, not at all," Trump replied. "Here's my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy."
"One of the things about Rudy — number one, he was the best prosecutor. You know, one of the best prosecutors and the best mayor," Trump continued. "But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know — was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers."
"And it's really circumventing . . . but very legally and maybe getting things done faster," he added. "But Rudy is a high-quality guy who by the way has a treasure trove of information."
The remarks come after Trump, newly emboldened by his acquittal in the Senate, purged his administration of officials involved in the impeachment investigation. At the same time, Attorney General William Barr has reportedly intervened in cases related to Trump and created a process for Giuliani to transmit any dirt he found on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter to the Justice Department.
Trump denied that he had anything to do with Giuliani's trip during the impeachment proceedings.
"Well, you have to ask that to Rudy," Trump told former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in November when asked what his lawyer was doing in Ukraine. "But Rudy . . . I don't even know . . . I know he was going to go to Ukraine, and I think he cancelled the trip."
Trump also suggested that Giuliani could have been working for others.
"Rudy has other clients other than me," Trump said.
"So you didn't direct him to go there on your behalf?" O'Reilly asked.
"No," Trump claimed.
While Trump alleged that Giuliani had a "treasure trove of information," his personal attorney appeared Thursday on Fox Business to push his same conspiracy theories debunked months ago.
Giuliani scrolled on his iPad to insist to host Trish Regan he had "reports" and a "letter" corroborating his discredited claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine, though he never showed the documents.
"We are going to reveal the whole thing," he claimed. "It's not just Biden. [It's] a bunch of Democrats."
Despite Trump's congressional allies warning that Giuliani's information might not be legit and an internal Fox News briefing warning that his claims were "disinformation," Giuliani told the network that he has compiled so much evidence that his life is allegedly at risk.
"That's why they are so crazy on the subject of Ukraine and why they want to literally kill me," he said.
When Regan pressed him on basic details, Giuliani responded with a string of contradictions.
"Why were you over there?" Regan asked.
"I haven't been in Ukraine in two years," Giuliani said, before immediately contradicting himself. "I went to the Ukraine for the first time, like, three weeks ago to interview a witness."
Giuliani continued to scroll through his iPad, insisting it contained proof of Democratic involvement in "corruption" and "money laundering."
"Give me a copy of that," Regan said. "I want to see it."
"This is a smoking gun," Giuliani claimed.
But even Republicans have warned that Giuliani's "evidence" may not support his allegations.
"I called the attorney general this morning, and Richard Burr, the chairman of the Intel Committee, and they told me, 'Take very cautiously anything coming out of the Ukraine against anybody,'" Graham told CBS News earlier this week. "When it comes to documents coming out of the Ukraine, the Republicans and Democrats: Be very cautious. Turn anything you've got over to the Intel Committee."
An internal Fox News briefing went further, saying Giuliani had a "high susceptibility to disinformation."
"The timeline in its entirety," wrote senior Fox News researcher Brian Murphy, "makes clear the extensive role played by Rudy Giuliani and his associates . . . in spreading disinformation."