President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has reversed course and said that he will no longer travel to Ukraine to push for that country to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden.
Giuliani earlier announced plans to visit Kyiv to meet with Zelensky to convince the Ukrainian authorities of the need to launch an investigation involving the interests of U.S. President Donald Trump on Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Former defense secretary Robert Gates on Sunday pushed back against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's call for the country to move on from Robert S. Mueller III's report, arguing that Russian interference in US elections remains an urgent issue. The other is the involvement of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s son in a gas company owned by a Ukrainian oligarch.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke were among the 2020 Democratic contenders to express concern about Giuliani's efforts, according to the CNN report.
Gates, who at 75 is now the chancellor of the College of William & Mary, said in an interview on CBS' "Face The Nation" that the ages of presidential candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen.
Democrats rushed to denounce Giuliani.
Anticipating criticism that he was encouraging foreign interference in a US presidential campaign, Giuliani told the Times, "There's nothing illegal about it", Giuliani said. Some Trump allies have suggested they can tarnish Biden with questions about corruption, founded or not, much like they did to Clinton in 2016.
He said Zelensky's efforts in Ukraine have the full support of Mr. Trump. "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", he said. "I hope for (Biden) it is fake news".
"I don't know, I'll play it by ear, I'll see what is going on", Giuliani told host Shannon Bream.
We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do. "And, frankly, I think elected officials who depend on honest elections to get elected ought to place as a very high priority measures to protect the American electoral system against interference by foreigners". That news came hours after President Trump told Politico in an interview that he planned to speak with Giuliani about the trip.
Ukrainian prosecutors under outgoing president Petro Poroshenko have reportedly opened investigations into whether Ukrainian officials tried to help Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election by releasing documents related to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. That attention forced Manafort to resign from the campaign, and he was later convicted of financial crimes and sentenced to prison.
In the Times article, Giuliani argued he's not acting illegally, though he admitted, "somebody could say it's improper". Ukrainian officials have denied involvement, but Trump has latched onto the idea that Kiev "colluded" with Democrats and that the origins of Mueller's probe were fraudulent.