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What were Rudy Giuliani’s business dealings in Ukraine?

It was another day of revelations in the saga of President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which prompted the impeachment inquiry. What was Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, doing in that Eastern European country? What did the president know about the whistleblower complaint -- and when? Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest and put it into context.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Another day, another new handful of revelations filling in our understand of how President Trump, his associates, and his administration have been interacting with Ukraine.

    What was President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani doing in that Eastern European country? What did the president know about the government whistle-blower complaint, and when did he know it?

    Here with me to walk through yet another day of developments is our own White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor.

    So, hello, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Hi.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Much to follow, as always.

    So, we did learn more today about Rudy Giuliani's involvements, dealings in Ukraine. What are we learning?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The key thing is that people often say, you need to follow the money.

    And in this case, both The Washington Post and The New York Times say they followed Rudy Giuliani's money to show that he was trying to really negotiate a lucrative consulting deal with the government of Ukraine while he was, at the same time, urging the top prosecutor there to look into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.

    So what we know is that through documents Rudy Giuliani was negotiating up to at least $200,000 to be paid by the Ukrainian government to do work that would have essentially been him looking into whether or not Ukraine had stolen money that somehow then ended up overseas.

    Rudy Giuliani says that he looked at this deal, that he agrees that this was something that he was looking into, but he says that, ultimately, he said, this was a conflict of interests, I thought it would look bad, and I never made a penny off of this.

    Why this is important is because what we see is Rudy Giuliani pressuring, essentially, or making Ukrainian officials look into this claim that Joe Biden might have been a corrupt person operating in their country…

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    … at the same time as he's actually trying to benefit financially from it.

    So this is a very, very big deal and something that people are going to continue to look into.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And it raises questions again, Yamiche, about the relationship between Rudy Giuliani and the president. He's the president's personal lawyer.

    But what's happening in their relationship?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Well, it's very interesting, because the other thing to note is that this could be breaking the law. If Rudy Giuliani was operating in this way in Ukraine, he could actually have been looking into possibly not registering as a foreign agent here.

    And that is breaking the law, because you would be essentially seeking to influence the United States government on the behalf of a foreign country.

    The other thing to note is that President Trump was answering questions about this, about whether or not he told Rudy Giuliani to do anything in Ukraine. And here's what he told Bill O'Reilly — Bill O'Reilly. He's a former FOX News host.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Well, you have to ask that to Rudy.

    But Rudy, I don't even know — I know he was going to go to Ukraine, and I think he canceled a trip. But Rudy has other clients other than me.

    No, I didn't direct him. But he is a warrior. Rudy is a warrior. Rudy went. He possibly saw something. But you have to understand, Rudy has other people that he represents.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Some people see this as the president trying to put some distance between himself and his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, even though number of officials have said that President Trump leaned on Rudy Giuliani to try to pressure Ukraine for this money.

    The other thing to note is that Rudy Giuliani, at one point, said that he had insurance on President Trump, in case he tried to throw him under the bus. But he's since said that this is him being sarcastic.

    His lawyer, though, has said that he told Rudy Giuliani to call the president to reassure him that he was not trying to say anything that would upset their relationship.

    But I want to read a quote to you from Rudy Giuliani, because he's really trying to make sure that he's defending the president and in the president's good graces.

  • He tweeted today:

    "Reality check. Democrats have now issued more subpoenas than they have had bills signed into law. Their focus is not on bettering the lives of everyday Americans. It's about protecting their seats and remaining in power."

    And that, Judy, is really Rudy Giuliani echoing the president's complaints about this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, so much to — so much interesting there to follow.

    But, Yamiche, separately, there was some reporting today about when President Trump learned of that government whistle-blower's complaint. And what do we know about that?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    We long knew that White House officials were facing pressure from Congress and from reporters to release this $391 million in military aid to Ukraine.

    What we now know, based on the reporting by The New York Times, is that the president was briefed on the whistle-blower's complaint some two weeks before that military aid was released.

    And why that's really important is because the president told the E.U. ambassador, the European Union ambassador, Gordon Sondland, that he didn't want any sort of quid pro quo when they were talking before the money was released.

    And this timeline essentially shows that the president said this after he knew that there was a whistle-blower complaint that was talking specifically about a quid pro quo.

    The other thing to note is that the White House has really had this defense that everything was OK because Ukraine got the money and the presidents of Ukraine and the United States eventually met.

    What we know now is that aid, again, was released because the president knew about — or at least was in part because the president knew about the whistle-blower complaint. The other thing to note is, the White House meeting never actually happened. The two presidents met on the sidelines of the year — of the United Nations.

    But the president of Ukraine has yet to ever come to the White House and get what would really be a very diplomatic and big welcoming at the White House. That's much different than a sideline meeting.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Coveted invitation.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Yes.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Thank you, Yamiche.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Thanks.

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