President had appeared to distance himself a day earlier
Trump calls Giuliani ‘greatest Mayor in the history of NYC’
On Friday the president had said he didn’t know if Rudy Giuliani was his personal attorney.
Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA
Donald Trump came to the defence of Rudy Giuliani on Saturday, only a day after saying he didn’t know if the former New York mayor was still his personal attorney.
Giuliani “may seem a little rough around the edges”, Trump wrote, “but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer”.
The president did not say Giuliani was still his personal attorney. The former mayor said on Friday he was.
Giuliani is under pressure over his extra-governmental role in Trump’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a potential opponent in the 2020 election, over unfounded allegations of corruption involving the former vice-president’s son.
Two Soviet-born US citizens, both associates of Giuliani, were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of campaign finance violations, while trying to leave the country on one-way tickets.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that Giuliani himself was under federal investigation.
Trump has seemed recently to begin to distance himself from Giuliani, amid reports that allies of the president want the voluble former mayor to keep quiet.
The impeachment inquiry run by House Democrats is gathering pace, fuelled by the Ukraine scandal and dragging the state department and senior diplomats into a morass of committee hearings, subpoenas and bare-knuckle political battles.
As he left the White House on Friday for a campaign rally in Louisiana, the president was asked if Giuliani was still his personal attorney.
“I don’t know,” Trump said. “I haven’t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly. He’s a very good attorney, and he has been my attorney.”
Giuliani told the Washington Post he was still representing Trump.
Analysts have questioned the common description of Giuliani as Trump’s lawyer, given the apparently non-legal nature of his work. Giuliani has suggested attorney-client privilege would protect him from congressional scrutiny. That notion has been placed in doubt.
Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is serving a three-year jail term for crimes including campaign finance violations he says were committed by order of his boss. It was reported this month that Cohen wants to write a tell-all book, once he regains his freedom.
On Saturday morning, after leaving the White House for his golf course in Virginia, Trump tweeted: “So now they are after the legendary ‘crime buster’ and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer.
“Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”
The reference to the “Deep State” was to a popular rightwing conspiracy theory which posits the existence of a permanent government of intelligence officials and bureaucrats, dedicated to stymying Trump’s agenda.
The former Trump campaign chair, White House strategist and Breitbart News supremo Steve Bannon, a prime mover behind the popularisation of the conspiracy, is on record as saying “none of this is true” and the theory is “for nut cases”.