Upon his return to the United States after attending the new Ukrainian president’s inauguration, Energy Secretary Rick Perry urged President Trump to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But Trump responded by ordering Perry to call his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to better understand why Trump didn’t trust the Ukrainian government, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In an exclusive interview with the WSJ, Perry said he obliged Trump’s directive in order to better orchestrate a meeting between Trump and Zelensky. He told the WSJ that Giuliani expressed several concerns he and Trump had about the Ukrainian government’s alleged pro-Hillary Clinton interference in the 2016 election, including the conservative conspiracy theory that a trove of Clinton’s deleted emails are hidden somewhere in Ukraine. None of these allegations have been substantiated.
Giuliani confirmed to the WSJ that the phone call between himself and Perry took place and said he expressed concerns that “I probably said on television 50 times,” he said.
According to Perry, the phone call took place after Perry and two other U.S. diplomats at the center of the impeachment inquiry met with Trump at the White House to urge him to meet with Zelensky. In that meeting Trump told the officials that they needed to work with Giuliani to address his concerns before he would agree to such a meeting.
“Visit with Rudy,” Perry said Trump told him.
“And as I recall the conversation, he said, ‘Look, the President is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,’” Mr. Perry told WSJ. “‘He thinks they’re corrupt and…that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.’”