Giuliani makes astonishing admission he told Trump ambassador would not help him politically, but insists 'that was, like, general gossip'

President's lawyer suggests he spread rumours embassy was 'out-of-control'

Conrad Duncan
Tuesday 17 December 2019 10:46 GMT
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admits he 'forced out' Ukraine ambassador

Rudy Giuliani has explained how he may have convinced Donald Trump to remove a US diplomat who was preventing an investigation into 2020 election candidate Joe Biden.

In an astonishing admission, Mr Giuliani, who is the president’s personal lawyer, suggested he passed on “gossip” about Marie Yovanovitch, then-US ambassador to Ukraine, to turn Mr Trump against her.

“I may or may not have passed along the general gossip that the embassy was considered to be a kind of out-of-control politically partisan embassy,” he told the New York Times.

“But that was, like, general gossip, I didn’t report that as fact.”

Ms Yovanovitch testified to Congress last month that Mr Giuliani was behind a “campaign of disinformation” against her, which led to her being recalled early from the Kiev embassy.

“I do not understand Mr Giuliani’s motives for attacking me, nor can I offer an opinion on whether he believed the allegations he spread about me,” she told the House Intelligence Committee.

After admitting to the New Yorker he wanted Ms Yovanovitch “out of the way”, the president’s lawyer has doubled down on his admission by claiming he gave Mr Trump multiple accounts of how the ambassador was not helping him politically.

Mr Guiliani told the Times he presented Ms Yovanovitch as an impediment to investigations in Ukraine that could help Mr Trump, such as an investigation into Mr Biden, his main political rival.

When asked if his characterisation of the ambassador helped convince Mr Trump and Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, to remove her, he replied: “I think my information did. I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. But they relied on it.”

Mr Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine have become a key part of the impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump and allegations that the president sought to use his office to forward his personal political goals.

The president has been accused of withholding congressionally-approving US military aid to Ukraine and a White House visit in order to force the country’s leader into opening an investigation into Mr Biden ahead of the 2020 election.

Mr Giuliani was recently in Ukraine as part of his ongoing campaign to find damaging information on the former vice president.

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Biden.

Although Mr Trump has also denied any wrongdoing, the House of Representatives is expected to impeach him this week after a series of damning testimonies from US diplomats and foreign service officials about his conduct.

The president was asked on Monday how much he had been told about Mr Guiliani’s recent trip to Ukraine.

“Not too much,” he insisted, before praising Mr Giuliani as “the greatest crime fighter in the last 50 years”.

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