Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, asked President Donald Trump’s legal team about the timeline of the president’s efforts to investigate the Bidens, which he alleges was connected to corruption in Ukraine. Deputy White House counsel Patrick Philbin said that, while there is nothing in the record about Trump mentioning the Bidens before the former vice president announced he was running for president, there is a record of Trump addressing corruption in Ukraine. Philbin said that new Ukrainain President Zelensky’s anti-corruption platform opened up an opportunity for Trump to start looking at these issues. Additionally, he said that Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani started looking into the Bidens’ connections with Ukraine and Burisma “months before Biden announced any candidacy.”
The question is to Counsel for the President:
Witnesses testified before the house that President Trump consistently expressed the view that Ukraine was a corrupt country before Vice President Biden formally entered the 2020 presidential race in April 2019. Did President Trump ever mention Joe or Hunter Biden in connection with corruption in Ukraine to former Ukrainian president Ooroshenko or other Ukrainian officials, President Trump’s cabinet members or top aides, or others? If so what did the president say to whom and when?
Mr. Chief Justice, Senators, thank you for that question course. Of course, I think it’s important at the outset to frame the answer by bearing in mind I am limited to what’s in the record, and what’s in the record is determined by what the House of Representatives sought. It was there proceeding. They were the ones who ran it, they were the ones who called the witnesses, so, part of the question refers to conversations between President Trump and other cabinet members and others like that. There’s not something in the record on that, it wasn’t thoroughly pursued in the record. So I can’t point to something in the record that shows President Trump at an earlier time mentioning specifically something related to Joe or Hunter Biden. It is in the record that he spoke to President Poroshenko twice about corruption in Ukraine both in June of 2017 and again in September of 2017. But there are, there is other information publicly available and in the record, that I think it’s important for understanding the timeline and understanding why it was that the information related to the Bidens and the Burisma affair came up when it did.
So one important piece of information to bear in mind is President Poroshenko was the person that Joe Biden himself, on the tapes we’ve seen, went to to have the prosecutor fired. So as long as President Poroshenko was still in charge in Ukraine, he was the person that Joe Biden had spoken to to get the Prosecutor Shokin fired, when Shokin was looking into, according to public reports, looking into Burisma. As long as he was still the president and Ukraine questioned the utility of raising an incident in which he was the one who was taking the direction from Vice President Biden to fire the prosecutor. So when you have an election in April of 2019, and you have a new president, President Solinsky, who has run on an anti-corruption platform, and there is a question, is he really going to change things, is there going to be something new in the Ukraine, it opens up an opportunity to start looking really at anti-corruption issues and raising questions.
Now the other important thing to understand in the timeline is that we heard a lot about Rudy Giuliani, the President’s private lawyer, and what was he interested in Ukraine and what was his role. Well, as we know, it’s been made public, Mr. Giuliani, as the president’s private lawyer, has been asking a lot of questions in the Ukraine dating back to the fall of 2018, and in November 2018 he said publicly he was giving some tips about things to look into. He gave a dossier to the state department in March of this year. Remember Vice President Biden announces his candidacy in April, April 25th. In March, Rudy Giuliani gave documents to the state department, including interview notes from interviews he conducted both with Shokin and with Yuriy Lutsenko, who is also a prosecutor in the Ukraine, and those interview notes are from January, January 23rd and January 25th 2019, so months before Vice President Biden announced any candidacy, and it goes through in these interview notes, Shokin explaining that he was removed at the request of Mr. Joseph Biden the Vice President, and it explains that he has been investigating Burisma and that Hunter was on the board, and it raises all the questions about that. So it was Mr. Giuliani who had been, as Jane Raskin explained the other day as Counsel for the President here, Mr. Giuliani’s Counsel for the President is looking into what went on in Ukraine, is there anything related to 2016, are there other things related there, and he’s given this information, tips about this, and starts pursuing that, as well, and he’s digging into that in January of 2019. We know that Mr. Giuliani is the Presidents private Counsel, I can’t represent specific conversations they had, they would be privileged, but we do know from testimony that the President said in a May 23rd Oval Office meeting, with respect to Ukraine, talked to Rudy, Rudy knows about Ukraine. So the President, it seems from that, gets information for Mr. Giuliani. Months before Vice President Biden announced his candidacy, Mr. Giuliani is looking into this issue, interviewing people and getting information about it. In addition in March of 2019 articles began to be published. Then three articles were published by ABC, by The New Yorker, and buy The Washington Post before the July 25th call. Washington Post on July 22nd, three days before the call, has an article specifically about the Biden’s and Burisma. That’s what makes it suddenly current, relevant, probably to be in someone’s mind. So that’s the timeline.