- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Presidential lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani opened up a public rift Wednesday with one of the president’s chief Republican defenders in the impeachment inquiry, asking for an apology over claims that he has financial interests in Ukraine.

Mr. Giuliani took exception to a line of questioning by Republican counsel Steve Castor of the House intelligence committee, who asked European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, “Did you know that Rudy Giuliani has private business interests in Ukraine?”

The former New York City mayor took to Twitter to declare that “Republican lawyer doesn’t do his own research and preparation, and is instead picking up Democrat lies, shame. Allow me to inform him: I have NO financial interests in Ukraine, NONE! I would appreciate his apology.”

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The provoking of Mr. Giuliani by the lead Republican questioner in the impeachment inquiry added to Democrats’ speculation that Republicans have been laying the groundwork to blame the former mayor for the administration’s dealings in Ukraine.

Mr. Sondland testified Wednesday that he and other U.S. diplomats didn’t want to work with Mr. Giuliani in Ukraine, but thought they had no choice because he was working on behalf of Mr. Trump. Mr. Giuliani was pushing for Ukraine to announce investigations both of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and of Burisma Holdings, an energy company that gave a high-paying job to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s son Hunter.

“So we followed the president’s orders,” Mr. Sondland said. “We heard from Mr. Giuliani that that was the case. We knew these investigations were important to the president.”

Mr. Castor’s questioning appeared to try to separate the president from Mr. Giuliani’s actions. He asked Mr. Sondland, “You testified that Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president, correct?”

“That’s our understanding,” Mr. Sondland replied.

“But how did you know that? Who told you?” Mr. Castor asked. “It wasn’t an order or direction to go talk with Mr. Giuliani, correct?”

Mr. Sondland answered that he and other U.S. officials concluded “that if we did not talk to Rudy, nothing would move forward on Ukraine.”

Democrats pointed out that in the White House transcript of Mr. Trump’s July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine, Mr. Trump himself asked the Ukrainian to speak with Mr. Giuliani.

“I would like him to call you,” Mr. Trump told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. “I will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. Rudy very much knows what’s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him, that would be great.”

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and the intelligence panel chairman, said all the U.S. agents in Ukraine were acting on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

“I do not believe that the president would allow himself to be led by the nose by Rudy Giuliani or Ambassador Sondland or anybody else,” Mr. Schiff said. “I think the president was the one who decided whether a meeting would happen, whether aid be lifted. Not anyone who worked for him.”

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