Trump stands by 'gentleman' Giuliani as criminal probe widens

Hunter Walker
White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — President Trump brushed off the growing criminal investigation into his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Friday afternoon. Yahoo News asked Trump if he was “at all concerned” about the Giuliani probe when the president spoke to reporters before departing the White House for an event in South Carolina.

“I don’t think so because I think Rudy is a great gentleman,” Trump said.

Giuliani, who plays a dual role as Trump’s lawyer and television advocate, is a central figure in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. In a phone call on July 25, Trump encouraged the president of Ukraine to talk with Giuliani about potentially investigating the business dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden’s son in that country. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the impeachment inquiry late last month in response to a whistleblower complaint about the call, and in response to reports that $400 million in military aid to Ukraine was withheld as Trump pushed the country’s leader to investigate the Bidens.

Two of Giuliani’s business associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested on Oct. 9 and charged with illegally trying to funnel foreign contributions into U.S. political campaigns. Giuliani has said Parnas helped him plan an aborted trip to Ukraine, where he had hoped to gather information about the Bidens. Federal prosecutors are investigating Giuliani’s relationship with the two men and whether it potentially violated lobbying laws. On Friday, Politico reported that the investigation expanded beyond FBI agents and federal prosecutors in New York City to include the criminal division of the Department of Justice in Washington. Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.

President Trump speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. (Photo: Tom Brenner/Reuters)

As he said he isn’t worried about the probe into his personal attorney, Trump on Friday referenced Giuliani’s past work as a federal prosecutor and mayor of New York City. He also suggested Giuliani’s efforts in Ukraine were simply an attempt to root out “corruption” in that country.

“He’s been a great crime fighter. He looks for corruption wherever he goes,” Trump said of Giuliani, adding, “Everybody understands Ukraine has big problems in that regard. Rudy Giuliani is a fine man. He was the greatest mayor in the history of New York and he’s been one of the greatest crime fighters, corruption fighters.”

As he spoke to reporters, Trump dismissed the impeachment inquiry as “a hoax” and “a disgrace.” The president and his allies have criticized the inquiry because Trump has not yet been given a chance to question witnesses, and some testimony on classified matters has been given in secure facilities on Capitol Hill.

“Things are going very well,” Trump said. “I know people are still in a basement — in a secure room in the basement trying to make us look as bad as possible, but that’s not working too well.”

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