Rudy Giuliani: Trump will stay loyal but jokes he has ‘insurance’

The president’s personal lawyer has emerged as a key figure in the impeachment inquiry

US president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaking at the Iran Freedom Convention in Washington in May 2018. Photograph: The New York Times

US president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani speaking at the Iran Freedom Convention in Washington in May 2018. Photograph: The New York Times

 

Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has said he is confident the US president will remain loyal to him as an impeachment inquiry unfolds in which the former New York mayor has become a central figure.

But Mr Giuliani joked that he had good “insurance” in case Trump did turn on him, amid speculation that Republicans will seek to frame him as a rogue actor.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, in response to a question about whether he was nervous that Mr Trump might “throw him under a bus” in the impeachment crisis, Mr Giuliani said with a slight laugh: “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.”

Mr Giuliani’s lawyer, Mark Costello, who was also on the call then interjected: “He’s joking.”

Whether it was a joke, or a veiled threat, Mr Giuliani has emerged as a key player in the impeachment proceedings, which centre on the question of whether the president sought to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden.

Impeachment hearing

Testimony by diplomats in the lead-up to this week’s first public impeachment hearing has consistently pointed a finger of blame at Mr Giuliani, who led the administration’s secret effort to pressure the Ukrainians to launch a corruption investigation into Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.

In testimony, William Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state, have described how Mr Trump seemed to care more about investigating Mr Biden, his possible opponent in the 2020 presidential election, than protecting a key ally from Russian aggression.

Mr Taylor also described how one of his aides had heard a colleague, Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the EU, talking to Trump on the phone in July. The aide asked Mr Sondland what Mr Trump thought about Ukraine and Mr Sondland allegedly replied that Mr Trump cared more about the investigations into Mr Biden, which “Giuliani was pressing for”.

Mr Giuliani told the Guardian that he had no knowledge of the call and made disparaging remarks about the case the Democrats had presented on the first day of the impeachment hearing.

“I’m not sure this is very solid testimony. In court we would call it hearsay, triple hearsay. It would not even be admissible. But if you are asking me flat out had I ever heard of a conversation like that? No,” he said.

“I thought it was a weak way to start a trial,” he said.

Mr Giuliani also defended his role as Mr Trump’s attorney, and repeatedly said that he had spoken to the president on Wednesday night, and that Mr Trump had wished him a good night.

Loyal

Asked about whether he believed Mr Trump would remain loyal to him, amid speculation Republican lawmakers could seek to pin the blame for alleged wrongdoing on Giuliani personally, in an effort to shield the president, Mr Giuliani remarked that he believed Mr Trump, who he has known for three decades, was a “very loyal guy”.

“I acted properly as his lawyer,” Mr Giuliani said. “I did what a good lawyer is supposed to do. I dug up evidence that helped to show the case against him was false. That there was a great deal of collusion going on someplace else other than Russia. And then I stepped on the number one minefield, which is Joe Biden, who is heavily protected by the Washington press corps,” he said.

Mr Sondland told Congress last month that Mr Trump instructed his US diplomats to work through Mr Giuliani to make it clear Ukraine’s access to the White House was contingent on their launching an investigation into his opponents.

The White House denounced the impeachment hearings as a “witch-hunt” and downplayed the serious corruption allegations. – Guardian