Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani won’t say whether he has a government security clearance, as questions mount as to what type of work he was doing in Ukraine in an effort to advance the president’s political objectives.
The issue of what type of clearance Giuliani may possess came up during a hearing on Thursday with Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire that focused, in part, on Giuliani’s work on Trump’s behalf to convince the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter over highly-dubious abuse of power allegations.
After a question from Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) on whether Giuliani had a clearance, Maguire said he didn’t know. Earlier in the session, he had said it was vital for those individuals conducting U.S. foreign policy abroad to have government clearance to do so.
“In order to be able to handle sensitive information, whether it be diplomatic or certainly intelligence information, one must be vetted,” said Maguire. “This is the important part of protecting national security. We can't just bring people in and automatically wave a magic wand to put holy water on them to give them security clearance. It is a matter of vetting.”
Reached for comment just hours after the hearing concluded, Giuliani dodged several attempts about whether he had a security clearance. Instead, the former New York City mayor said in a text message that he was “never given classified info.”
After The Daily Beast asked again whether Giuliani has a security clearance, he again declined to answer.
“Doesn’t matter keep chasing irrelevant info,” Giuliani wrote in another text message.
Security clearances are typically only granted for people who need the access that comes with it to work in some capacity for the government, according to national security lawyer and security clearance expert Bradley P. Moss. Lawyers representing former or current government employees can also gain clearances related to their legal work, Moss added. A partner at Moss’ firm, Mark Zaid, is representing the whistleblower who first raised concerns about Guiliani’s and Trump’s work in Ukraine; though Moss himself is not.
If Giuliani does have a security clearance , Moss said it’s “unlikely” that he went through the formal clearance process.
“If he was granted access to classified information, it is likely it was done on direct orders of the president, who can grant access to anyone he wants,” Moss said.
As part of his work for Trump, Giuliani reportedly met with associates of Ukraine’s president as well as the country’s top prosecutor. The plans and meetings were apparently meant to both push Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and to pursue right-wing conspiracy theories about the origins of the Justice Department’s investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 Trump campaign. Giuliani has said that he did so with the knowledge of the State Department and on Thursday morning claimed that he had a “nice little trail” of text messages to prove his communications with Karl Volker, the top diplomat in Ukraine.
Asked for his impression of what Giuliani’s role actually was, Maguire expressed confusion.
“Congressman Quigley, my only knowledge of what Mr. Giuliani does, I have to be honest with you, I get from TV and the news media,” he said. “I'm not aware of what he does, in fact, for the president.”