Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' MORE said President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE directed him to discuss Ukraine corruption concerns with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiBook Trump signed for Giuliani fetches K at auction: 'I promise never to run against you' Judge: Request for Tucker Carlson personnel files is 'intrusive' White House orders release of Trump records to Jan. 6 committee MORE in the spring, according to an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
Perry told the news outlet that he reached out to Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, to ask for help in arranging a meeting between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky.
Perry told the newspaper that he and other officials, including former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails CNN obtains audio of 2019 Giuliani call linked to Ukraine meddling allegations GOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe MORE, had urged Trump to meet with Zelensky shortly after he took office, but Trump expressed reservations, citing the country’s history of political corruption, and told Perry to “visit with Rudy.”
“And as I recall the conversation, he said, ‘Look, the president is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,’ ” Perry told the newspaper. “ ‘He thinks they’re corrupt and ... that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.’ ”
Perry said that in his conversation with Giuliani, the attorney cited baseless claims, which have frequently been mentioned by Trump, including that Ukraine was in possession of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE’s email server, had fabricated evidence against Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE and was responsible for a former British spy’s dossier alleging that Russia had compromising information on Trump.
“I don’t know whether that was crap or what,” Perry said, “but I’m just saying there were three things that he said. That’s the reason the president doesn’t trust these guys.”
Perry said Giuliani “didn’t say they gotta do X, Y and Z. He just said, ‘You want to know why he ain’t comfortable about letting this guy come in? Here’s the reason.’ ”
The Trump administration has asserted that financial aid was withheld from Ukraine over concerns about corruption and not, as alleged in a whistleblower complaint, as a way of pressuring the nation to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks State school board leaves national association saying they called parents domestic terrorists Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases MORE’s son Hunter.
However, in a May letter, Pentagon officials said that they had certified the nation had taken major steps against corruption months before the administration blocked the military aid.
The whistleblower complaint about a July 25 call between Trump and Zelensky is at the center of a House impeachment inquiry launched last month.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.