Perry says Trump directed him to discuss Ukraine with Giuliani: report

Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryOvernight Energy: BLM may boost staff numbers at new Colorado headquarters | Perry backers reportedly got Ukraine gas deal after he met with president | Paris exit toughens US path to green future Perry backers secured lucrative Ukraine gas deal after his meeting with new president: report The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment drama will dominate this week MORE said President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE directed him to discuss Ukraine corruption concerns with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry Giuliani associate Lev Parnas discussed Ukraine with Trump at private dinner: report Democrats face make-or-break moment on impeachment 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 VolkerGeorge Kent: What you need to know Democrats announce public impeachment hearings with eight witnesses next week House Democrats circulate memo rebutting GOP impeachment defense 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.”

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“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 ClintonDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Krystal Ball credits Gabbard's upswing in 2020 race to 'feckless' Democratic establishment Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates MORE’s email server, had fabricated evidence against Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEx-Trump campaign official testifies Stone gave updates on WikiLeaks email dumps Paul Manafort's former son-in-law sentenced to 9 years in prison for scamming Dustin Hoffman, others NSC official testified there was 'no doubt' Trump pushed quid pro quo 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 BidenDemocrats worry they don't have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report Giuliani pens op-ed slamming 'unprecedented' impeachment inquiry 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.