Faced with a U.S. Treasury Department report linking him to a Russian agent, Rudy Giuliani defended himself Saturday by claiming he had no idea that Ukrainian lawmaker and conspiracy-peddler Andriy Derkach was a foreign operative.
In an interview Saturday on AM Joy, the president’s personal attorney refused to directly answer questions from interviewer Jonathan Capehart about how he could have been in the dark about Derkach’s political affiliations.
“You’re a former prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, a former mayor of New York City, you have a national security firm,” Capehart said. “How could you not know that this person you were talking to was a known Russian agent?“
Giuliani responded by telling Capehart to “calm down,” and pivoted to a Trump team talking point about members of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team “wiping” their cell phones after investigating the president’s ties to Russia.
According to the Treasury Department, Derkach was an “active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.” The Director for the National Counterintelligence and Security Center cited Derkach in August as an example of Russian-backed interference in the 2020 election.
As The Daily Beast previously reported, Derkach met with Giuliani in December of last year to push the conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that meddled in the 2016 election. According to the Treasury Department, the two have met at least twice since then, including for an interview for Giuliani's YouTube show about the Bidens.
In his MSNBC interview, Giuliani claimed to have no knowledge of the Treasury Department investigation that sanctioned Derkach on Thursday for attempting to interfere in the upcoming U.S. elections.
“I don't know what’s in the Treasury Department investigation, nor have I ever seen any evidence that [Derkach] is or is not a Russian agent,’ Giuliani said. “So I don’t know anything about that.”
Giuliani went on to call former associate Lev Parnas—who has implicated the attorney in the efforts to extract information on Trump's rivals out of Ukraine—a “liar, crook and a thief,” and repeated a conspiracy theory about billionaire philanthropist George Soros meddling in Ukraine.
Obviously frustrated with his guest, Capehart at one point told Giuliani he was trying to “pull you out of the weeds and out of the conspiracy theories.”
“I'm trying to understand how someone of your stature and career — what happened to you, Mayor Giuliani?” he asked. “Why are you out here spreading conspiracy theories and lies and interfering with an American election? What happened to you?”