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There’s an Obvious Problem with Rudy Giuliani’s Spin on Ukraine

Rudy Giuliani speaks at the 2018 Iran Freedom Convention in Washington, D.C., May 5, 2018. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

We still don’t know the details of a whistleblower complaint that is “said” to involve Trump’s dealings with the new Ukrainian government, but we are learning of alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Chris Cuomo’s interview with Giuliani last night was truly wild. You can watch it here, but Giuliani first denies then admits asking Ukraine to investigate matters related to the Bidens:

Then, later today, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump himself “repeatedly pressed” the new Ukrainian government to investigate Hunter Biden:

President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ’s son, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani, his personal lawyer, on a probe, according to people familiar with the matter.

“He told him that he should work with [Mr. Giuliani] on Biden, and that people in Washington wanted to know” whether allegations were true or not, one of the people said. Mr. Trump didn’t mention a provision of foreign aid to Ukraine on the call, said this person, who didn’t believe Mr. Trump offered the Ukrainian president any quid-pro-quo for his cooperation on any investigation.

The president’s defenders are rightly emphasizing the lack of evidence (so far) of any express quid pro quo tying vital aid to Ukraine to an investigation of Trump’s political opponents, but there’s a key detail in the story above that undermines the notion that these eight alleged requests reflect the proper exercise of presidential diplomacy. This same key detail undermines Giuliani’s spin. Here’s Giuliani, earlier today:

But is Trump “doing his job” when he’s asking the “corrupt country” to work with his own personal counsel? Is it right for the president’s personal counsel to press an allied nation to investigate the president’s political opponents? Trump’s alleged request that Ukraine work with his personal counsel raises the issue of a potential personal political favor — at the same time that vital foreign aid to Ukraine was on the line. There is not a Republican alive who would find it acceptable for a Democratic president to press a foreign country to work with his personal lawyer to investigate a domestic political rival.

There is a pressing need for lawmakers to be informed of the substance of the whistleblower’s complaint — and to seek evidence that corroborates or refutes his account. And while the Wall Street Journal report is disturbing, it’s also important to note that it’s based in large part on anonymous sourcing. While Giuliani’s admitted efforts to spur a Ukrainian investigation are now widely known, we don’t yet know the whole truth (or anything close to the whole truth).

It’s time to get to the whole truth. Congress should hear the whistleblower’s complaint, let’s have a full accounting of the administration’s actions, and let’s also get a complete accounting of the Bidens’ actions in Ukraine. The president’s potential abuses of power don’t render the former vice president or his son immune from accountability for their own conflicts of interest or any other impropriety. My colleague Michael Brendan Dougherty made the correct call today. “On Ukraine, just the facts, please.”

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