GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz Says It's 'Weird' About Rudy Giuliani's Trip to Ukraine

Republican Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz offered several defenses of Rudy Giuliani visiting Ukraine this past week, saying that while it is "weird," Americans should give him "the benefit of the doubt" because of his role after 9/11.

Gaetz, a GOP member of the House Judiciary Committee that overheard impeachment testimony last week, appeared on ABC News' This Week on Sunday to produce a litany of defenses for President Donald Trump and Giuliani's continued dealings with Ukraine. Gaetz acknowledged he believes Giuliani is representing the president in the Ukraine as Giuliani continues his reported "dirt-digging" trip in Kyiv, which began on December 4. However, the congressman said the entire impeachment inquiry is null because Trump in his July 25 phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was simply expressing his "skepticism of foreign aid."

.@GStephanopoulos: Can you explain to the American people why you think it's OK for the president to ask a foreign nation to investigate a political opponent?

Rep. Matt Gaetz says he believes Trump was acting based on a "sincere" skepticism of foreign aid

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) December 8, 2019

Quoting a Thursday story in The Washington Post, This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked Gaetz about the commentary that "the fact that Giuliani is back in Ukraine is like a murder suspect returning to the crime scene to live-stream themselves moon dancing. It's brazen on a galactic level."

"I would never compare Mayor Giuliani to a murder suspect," Gaetz responded. "Let's remember, this is the guy who took down the mob in the '90s. And who was out there leading the city of New York in the aftermath of the terrible events of 9/11. So I think he gets the benefit of the doubt that he's not akin to a murder suspect.

"But it is weird that he's over there, and I'm grateful that very soon after I made those comments on CNN, the president put out a statement that Rudy Giuliani does want to come into Congress and explain his role and explain what he's been up to. And I believe the president urging Mayor Giuliani to provide that clarity to the Congress will be helpful in explaining what seems to be odd having him over there at this time," Gaetz continued.

"I think the president was acting on his sincere, longly-held view and skepticism of foreign aid. I think he was acting on concern Ukraine is the third most corrupt country in the world," Gaetz said of the U.S. ally.

Democratic lawmakers in Washington agreed with Gaetz that Giuliani's visit to Kyiv this past week was a bizarre decision.

"It's a brazen move," said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat and member of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview with The Washington Post. "This is emblematic of this White House: when they are in the wrong, they double down. And in this case, they are tripling down."

Gaetz repeatedly argued it would be beneficial to Trump for Giuliani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify on his behalf in front of the House impeachment inquiry. However, Trump has forbidden all of his top former and current officials from providing testimony to investigators.

"I believe that Rudy Giuliani has indicated that he wants to testify," Gaetz said. "I believe it would be to the president's advantage to have people testify who could exculpate him ... [but it could hurt] out of the box strategy sessions."

matt gaetz republican giuliani ukraine
Matt Gaetz offered several defenses of Rudy Giuliani visiting Ukraine this past week, saying that while it is "weird," Americans should give him "the benefit of the doubt" because of his roll after 9/11. Screenshot: ABC This Week