Trump's interest stirring Ukraine investigations sows confusion in Kiev

Evan Vucci  AP
President Donald Trump listens during a event on medical billing in the Roosevelt Room of the White House

President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani canceled a trip to Ukraine on May 11, saying he changed his mind after learning that his planned meetings were set up by a group of Ukrainians who are "enemies" of Trump.

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.

But Giuliani told Fox News later on Friday that he was canceling his trip to Ukraine because he had learned that Zelensky was surrounded by foes of Trump. The President is openly asking a foreign government to investigate his political rival.

"Explain to me why Biden shouldn't be investigated if his son got millions from a Russian loving crooked Ukrainian oligarch while he was VP [vice president] and point man for Ukraine", Giuliani said via Twitter.

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 USA elections remains an urgent issue.

Giuliani wrote to Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who have pushed back on Giuliani and the Biden-Ukraine story in general.

If the assembly does happen, Mr. Giuliani said, "I'm going to instruct him what I do know in regards to the of us which shall be surrounding him, and the way important it is to attain a fleshy, total and comely investigation".

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"The piece of the Mueller report about Russian interference is not 'case closed, '" said Gates, a Republican who was defense secretary under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Here you have the President's lawyer seeking help from a foreign government again to influence a presidential election. "In order to remove any political suggestion, I will step back and watch it unfold", Giuliani said. And it comes after Mr. Trump spent more than half of his term facing questions about whether his 2016 campaign conspired with a foreign power.

However, President-elect Zelensky has said he would like to replace the top prosecutor who oversaw some of those investigations, Yuriy Lutsenko.

Gates's comments come on the same day that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to press Putin on the issue during their scheduled meeting this week in Sochi, Russia.

"I don't know, I'll play it by ear, I'll see what is going on", Giuliani told host Shannon Bream. "I hope for (Biden) it is fake news". Bernie Sanders, who is 77 - don't have the "kind of energy that I think is required to be president".

"My goal was to share information to assist their on-going investigation of Ukrainian officials being used by Americans to gather information to assist Clinton in last election and to alert them to the very real dangers that there are people involved in the investigation. who are attempting to shut it down before it reaches a conclusion", Giuliani said in a statement.

Another probe focuses on whether Ukrainian officials tried to benefit Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign by targeting Paul Manafort's business dealings in the country.

In the Times article, Giuliani argued he's not acting illegally, though he admitted, "somebody could say it's improper".

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