US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, called the president this week to reassure him he was joking when he told media outlets he had “insurance” if Trump turned on him in the Ukraine scandal at the heart of an impeachment inquiry into the president, Giuliani’s lawyer said on Wednesday.
The lawyer, Robert Costello, said Giuliani, “at my insistence”, called Trump “within the last day” to emphasise he had not been serious when he said he had an “insurance policy, if thrown under the bus”.
“He shouldn’t joke, he is not a funny guy. I told him, ‘Ten thousand comedians are out of work, and you make a joke. It doesn’t work that way,'” Costello told Reuters News Agency.
Giuliani has already said he was being sarcastic when he made the comments. Trump, too, has brushed them off, telling reporters in the Oval Office this week that “Rudy is a great guy.” The White House declined to comment on Costello’s remarks.
Giuliani has emerged as a central figure in the Democrat-led House of Representatives impeachment inquiry against Trump. It is probing whether the president, for his personal political gain, pressed Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, and his son, Hunter.
Several witnesses have testified that Giuliani, working in an unofficial capacity, led a shadow foreign policy on behalf of the president. His work, which blurred what was considered government objectives, rankled some Trump administration officials, according to testimony.
Giuliani and his associates also led a successful campaign to remove the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who also testified at the inquiry.
Trump, in an interview with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday, sought to distance himself from Giuliani’s activities on Ukraine, saying he had not directed him to work on Ukraine matters.
“No, I didn’t direct him but he is a warrior,” Trump told O’Reilly, adding Giuliani “possibly saw something” and “he’s done work in Ukraine for years.”
Costello declined to comment on what directions Trump had given Giuliani on Ukraine, citing attorney-client privilege.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday the former New York City mayor privately pursued hundreds of thousands of dollars in business from Ukrainian government officials during the same period he was working on behalf of the president, although he did not finalise any deals.