Politics In The News: Latest In The Impeachment Inquiry
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Rudy Giuliani - he may seem a little rough around the edges. But he's a great guy and a wonderful lawyer. So says President Trump, tweeting his support yesterday for Giuliani after Giuliani had a not-so-great week. This coming week may not be any better for either the president or his personal lawyer as the impeachment inquiry continues. NPR's Tamara Keith can explain why. Hi, Tam.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hi.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So let's start with the state of the very volatile (laughter) Trump-Giuliani relationship.
KEITH: Yes. So there's been some confusion over the last week, especially after the arrests and indictment of two Giuliani associates who had been helping him with his work for Trump in Ukraine. They were arrested on campaign finance charges. And reporters asked President Trump, is Rudy Giuliani still your attorney? And he sort of hedged a little and said that he had spoken to Giuliani, and he's a great attorney. So last night, President Trump called into the Judge Jeanine show on Fox News. And she asked him again to try to get some clarity.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JUSTICE WITH JUDGE JEANINE")
JEANINE PIRRO: There is some confusion as to whether or not you still consider him your attorney. Is he your attorney?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yes. And he's a great gentleman. He was a great mayor, one of the greatest, maybe the greatest mayor in the history of New York. He was a fantastic prosecutor. I know nothing about him being under investigation. Somebody said I heard a report today. I don't - I can't imagine it.
KEITH: So Judge Jeanine jumps back in and asked him if The New York Times report that Giuliani himself may be under investigation as part of this - if that gave him pause. Trump hedged again, said he didn't really know if there was an investigation but that prosecutors should be looking into really bad people.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Let's talk about the impeachment inquiry schedule this week. First, Fiona Hill, who was - until this summer - the president's top aide on Russia and Europe. And also, Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union - he's also on schedule later this week. Despite the administration blocking him from testifying earlier, where does all this stand?
KEITH: Well - so Sondland is eager to testify. And a person familiar says that now that Sondland has been subpoenaed by Congress, efforts by the the State Department and the White House to prevent him from testifying probably aren't going work because they don't see that they have the authority to direct him to disobey a subpoena. Now, why does he matter? He was essentially quarterbacking Ukraine policy from Europe during the period that Rudy Giuliani and the president were pushing for an investigation by Ukraine into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.
So remember, these text messages that were released about a week ago? It was between two State Department officials. One, a career diplomat texts to Sunland - he says, as I said on the phone, I think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. Five hours later, Sondland responds and says, the president has been crystal clear. No quid pro quo of any kind. And then he suggests that they stop texting about this. So what we know now is that The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal are reporting that Sondland will testify that in that five-hour period, he spoke to the president about what to say. And that he took the president at his word about there being no quid pro quo.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And just more on this, this morning, there was a statement from Hunter Biden, who has been pretty absent from this since the Ukraine scandal broke. Tell us what he said.
KEITH: Yeah. So he says that if his president - if his father is elected president, he will agree not to serve on boards or work on behalf of foreign-owned companies. So this would be a change from what Hunter Biden is doing now and is the way the Biden family is responding to all this pressure from President Trump.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's Tamara Keith. Thank you so much.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.