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Giuliani's Name Is Featured Prominently In Impeachment Transcripts


Pore over the transcripts coming out of the impeachment inquiry and a name really starts to stand out - Rudy Giuliani. The former mayor of New York is now President Trump's personal lawyer and clearly a central figure in the emerging narrative. With each release, it seems we get a fuller picture of just how heavily he was involved in the U.S. relationship with Ukraine. So let's sort this out with NPR's senior political editor Domenico Montanaro. Good morning, Domenico.


GREENE: So we're learning not just about Giuliani's interactions with Ukraine but also with the State Department. I mean, can you give us sort of a thumbnail of what's coming together here?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, he really led this alternative foreign policy and really outside the regular channels of the State Department, but interacted with people from the State Department. You know, all roads in the Ukraine affair lead back to Rudy Giuliani; it's becoming very clear. We've known that he was the person who led this alternative foreign policy, this pressure campaign. But his role has become even clearer based on these, you know, more than a thousand pages of transcripts, text messages released over the last two days. Put a finer point on it - Giuliani's name came up more than 400 times in just...


MONTANARO: ...The two transcripts released yesterday from EU ambassador Gordon Sondland and former special U.K. - Ukraine Ambassador Kurt Volker. Democrats kept asking about him. He was the first person mentioned by Democratic investigators and was mentioned continued throughout.

GREENE: Well, let's get a little more specific here. I mean, one of the things that seemed to emerge yesterday was about President Trump's desire, you know, not just for some sort of corruption investigation but for a public statement from the president of Ukraine...


GREENE: ...Announcing the investigation. We're learning more about how Giuliani might have been involved in that.

MONTANARO: Yeah, we know that Ambassador Volker, for example, detailed that Giuliani wanted Ukraine's president to make a public statement that mentioned two conspiracy theories, the ones we keep talking about - one about the 2016 election and one about a Ukrainian energy company, Burisma, which former Vice President Biden's son Hunter was on the board of. Volker thought it was inappropriate that that be included in a public statement. He relayed that. So did Ukrainian officials who didn't want to get involved in domestic U.S. politics.

Giuliani, though, insisted, according to Volker, and said if Ukrainians didn't do it, then they weren't serious. The translation here was that Giuliani was speaking for the president, and we know that the president asked for basically that on his phone call with Ukraine's president, asking Ukraine's president Zelenskiy to do him a favor and investigate the Bidens.

GREENE: With each new mention of Giuliani in these transcripts, you have to believe House Democrats want to speak to him more and more.

MONTANARO: Absolutely, they want to speak to him more and more, but he's already said, citing attorney-client privilege, he's not going to testify. It seems kind of tenuous to cite attorney-client privilege given that he wasn't in the White House and wasn't acting as the president's lawyer in litigation, but more like his consigliere (ph) or representative in this alternative foreign policy pressure campaign.

GREENE: Well, so - I mean, he's a private citizen. He's not a White House employee. I mean, are there tools that Congress has to get him to talk, either publicly or, you know, in one of these closed-door sessions as part of this impeachment inquiry?

MONTANARO: Well, I mean, potentially, if they go to court and try to fight this, but they say that they don't want to be dragged into court; they want to get this impeachment situation dealt with and over with in a timely way, not let it slip too far into the new year in an election year. Adam Schiff said he doesn't want to have to, you know, drag this out in court and that it would just be used as an article of impeachment of obstruction.

Remember, though, there is this southern district of New York investigation that's already ensnared two Giuliani associates. It'd be interesting to see what comes of that. And that's an office - remember - Giuliani ran as U.S. attorney.

GREENE: NPR's Domenico Montanaro. Thanks, Domenico.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Domenico Montanaro
Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.