US House Democrats took a quick step in the impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump by subpoenaing the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, above.
Giuliani is said to be a key figure in the investigation into the president’s alleged efforts to pressure Ukrainian authorities to probe his political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in a corruption case dating back to 2016.
Giuliani claimed the state department had encouraged him to meet Ukrainian officials to offer them help to investigate the Bidens.
In a letter to Giuliani on Monday, the chairmen of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs set an Oct 15 deadline to hand over text messages and phone records linked to Hunter who was a board member in the Ukrainian gas giant Burisma Holdings which was facing a major corruption probe when his father was US vice-president.
The letter noted that Giuliani’s tweets and statements indicated that he was not acting alone and that state department officials too may have been involved.
The letter further said that if Giuliani fails to produce the records due to pressure from Trump or the White House, it would be viewed as an obstruction of the impeachment inquiry and may have an adverse inference against him and Trump.
The committees also asked three of Giuliani’s business associates to depose before them in the coming days.
While doubts have been raised over the role of a private person like Giuliani in the Ukraine probe, the attorney denied any wrongdoing and said he was only working for his client.
During a phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on July 25, Trump requested him to look into the role of Hunter and Biden in the Burisma probe, according to a whistleblower’s complaint made public last week.
The president told Zelensky that Biden had been bragging about stopping the then Ukrainian prosecutor general Shokin from going ahead with the probe.
The investigation was focused on Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky and it is not yet proved Hunter had any role in the corruption scandal.
Giuliani wrote in his tweets that the president was doing his job by asking his Ukrainian counterpart to look into a corruption scandal that affected the US too.
Had former president Barak Obama done what Trump did now, the Bidens would not have siphoned off millions from Ukraine, he wrote.