Energy Secretary Rick Perry
President Trump directed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and two top State Department officials to deal with his private attorney Rudy Giuliani when the Ukrainian president sought to meet Trump in a clear circumvention of official channels, according to two sources familiar with the conversation.
Trump believed the country was still rampantly corrupt and said that if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wanted to meet with him, Giuliani would have to be convinced first, one source said.
“If they can satisfy Rudy, they can satisfy the President,” a person familiar with the meeting said.
Trump’s push to have Giuliani — his personal attorney — as gatekeeper is more direct than what was previously disclosed by one of the meeting’s participants in his statement to the House last week. It also further demonstrates how significant Giuliani was in brokering access to the President regarding Ukraine policy and in passing messages to other administration officials.
A key accusation in the whistleblower’s complaint that has prompted the impeachment probe into the President’s dealings with Ukraine is that Giuliani, a private citizen, had been presenting to Ukraine a US policy different than that from US diplomats.
At the May 23 meeting, Perry, US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, the State Department’s special representative to Ukraine, were reporting back to Trump after they returned from Zelensky’s inauguration.
Their goal was to tell Trump that they had a favorable impression of Zelensky and his government, and that he was a reformer who Trump should trust and engage with, according to three sources familiar with the meeting.