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

Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs major conservation bill into law | Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official | Trump Jr. expresses opposition to Pebble Mine project Senate votes to confirm Energy's No. 2 official 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch MORE said President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Coronavirus talks on life support as parties dig in, pass blame Ohio governor tests negative in second coronavirus test MORE directed him to discuss Ukraine corruption concerns with Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani says Black Lives Matter is 'domestic terrorist' group Commission on Presidential Debates rejects Trump campaign call for earlier debate The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  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 VolkerGOP senators request details on Hunter Biden's travel for probe Yovanovitch retires from State Department: reports Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 touts economic agenda in battleground Ohio The Memo: Campaigns gird for rush of early voting Trump's pitch to Maine lobstermen falls flat MORE’s email server, had fabricated evidence against Trump’s ex-campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortTrump says he would consider pardons for those implicated in Mueller investigation Graham releases newly declassified documents on Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Argentum - Mask mandates, restrictions issued as COVID-19 spreads 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 BidenBiden says his faith is 'bedrock foundation of my life' after Trump claim Biden clarifies comments comparing African American and Latino communities Kanye West may have missed deadline to get on Wisconsin ballot by minutes: report 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.