One of President Donald Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill expressed discomfort on Friday with Rudy Giuliani’s decision to travel to Ukraine in an attempt to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I don’t know that he needs to go there and encourage that investigation. There’s plenty that’s going on right now with regards to the Ukrainian involvement in a variety of aspects,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), told The Daily Beast. “Mr. Giuliani going there, I don’t know if that actually will speed up any investigation that has already started.… I don’t know that he’s being helpful or hurtful. The investigation is going to go on at a pace that does not take into account his travel to Ukraine.”
The comments from Meadows represented a soft rebuke of the president’s lawyer. But it was a rebuke nonetheless, made all the more notable considering that the congressman counts himself among the top backers of the administration.
Other congressional Republicans took a different approach to news that Giuliani was planning to travel to Ukraine in hopes of unearthing information on the origins of the Mueller probe and the involvement of Biden’s son, Hunter, with an energy company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch. Instead of weighing in on the efficacy of the president’s lawyer asking a foreign country for dirt on his potential opponent, they insisted they’d missed the story entirely.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), another Trump booster, told The Daily Beast he had not read the New York Times report on Giuliani, though he had read another Times story—last week’s report that the FBI sent an investigator posing as a private citizen to meet with Trump campaign officials during the 2016 race.
Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he too had not seen the Giuliani story and referred The Daily Beast to his office. As of press time, Hurd’s office did not say if he had since caught the story, or offered comment on it.
According to the Times, Giuliani is making the trip to Ukraine in hopes of persuading the country’s incoming president to keep pursuing investigations opened by the previous administration and to gather intel on whether Joe Biden tried to push for the ouster of a prosecutor looking into the company on whose board Hunter Biden served. Bloomberg has reported that the timeline of the events—and official documents pertaining to it—undercut the idea that the former VP intervened on his son’s behalf.
Giuliani was upfront about the motivations for his trip and event acknowledged that it could be seen as ethically dubious.
“Somebody could say it’s improper,” he told the Times. “I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
While few Republicans were willing to question Giuliani’s decision to go to Ukraine, Democrats exhibited no such reservations. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) said at an Axios event on Friday morning that the news “just takes your breath away.”
“Imagine in an ordinary world, the lawyer of the president going to a foreign power and trying to encourage them to investigate the family of a political opponent,” said Schiff. “He said some people might think it's improper. Arguably everyone thinks it's improper. But that's not stopping them.”