Politics

Trump contradicts past denials, admits sending Giuliani to Ukraine

(CNN) — Emboldened after his impeachment acquittal, President Donald Trump now openly admits to sending his attorney Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine to find damaging information about his political opponents, even though he strongly denied it during the impeachment inquiry.

The reversal came Thursday in a podcast interview Trump did with journalist Geraldo Rivera, who asked, “Was it strange to send Rudy Giuliani to Ukraine, your personal lawyer? Are you sorry you did that?” Trump responded, “No, not at all,” and praised Giuliani’s role as a “crime fighter.”

“Here’s my choice: I deal with the Comeys of the world, or I deal with Rudy,” Trump said, referring to former FBI Director James Comey. Trump explained that he has “a very bad taste” of the US intelligence community, because of the Russia investigation, so he turned to Giuliani.

“So when you tell me, why did I use Rudy, and one of the things about Rudy, number one, he was the best prosecutor, you know, one of the best prosecutors, and the best mayor,” Trump said. “But also, other presidents had them. FDR had a lawyer who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers.”

Trump had previously denied that he sent Giuliani to Ukraine. Asked in November if he directed Giuliani to “do anything” in Ukraine, Trump said, “No, I didn’t direct him,” but went on to call Giuliani a “great corruption fighter.” Giuliani says he’s exposing legitimate corruption in Ukraine, even though his claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden have been widely debunked.

In the new interview, Trump defended the decision to “use” Giuliani, even though US diplomats previously testified that Giuliani had undermined long-standing US policy toward Ukraine.

Giuliani was a central player in the scandal that got Trump impeached, though the President was acquitted by the Senate last week. Multiple witnesses described how Giuliani met with former Ukrainian officials in search of dirt against Joe and Hunter Biden. Other key players described how Giuliani and his allies pressured Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens.

Trump’s past denials came in November, when the House of Representatives was investigating the President’s conduct with Ukraine. Multiple US diplomats and national security officials testified that Giuliani was a central figure in the pressure campaign to secure political favors from Ukraine. Trump also mentioned Giuliani in his phone call last summer with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In the week since his acquittal, Trump has taken a series of bold steps to punish his opponents and reward his supporters. He fired several US officials who had testified against him in the impeachment inquiry, and he successfully lobbied the Justice Department to water down its request that his longtime adviser Roger Stone face as many as nine years in prison for lying to Congress.

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Florida woman accused of zipping her boyfriend in suitcase for hours until he died

(CNN) — Sarah Boone called 911 and said her boyfriend got trapped in a suitcase and died during a game of hide-and-seek, according to court records.

The Florida couple had been drinking Chardonnay and doing puzzles Sunday night in their Winter Park apartment, Boone told authorities, when they thought “it would be funny” to hop in a suitcase as a part of the game, according to an arrest affidavit from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Boone, 42, zipped up Jorge Torres Jr. in the blue suitcase containing a few items for donating. Two of his fingers stuck out, so she assumed he could open it, according to the affidavit.

She went upstairs to bed and thought he’d get himself out of the suitcase and join her, only to wake up Monday and find him still in it and not breathing, the affidavit says.

Boone was arrested Tuesday and faces a second-degree murder charge after investigators determined videos on her phone contradicted her story.

The phone footage shows her mocking her boyfriend as she filmed his cries for help, and telling him it was his punishment for cheating, according to the arrest affidavit.

“I can’t f**king breathe, seriously,” her boyfriend said in the phone video. “That’s on you. Oh, that’s what I feel like when you cheat on me,” she responds.

The video shows the victim pushing on the suitcase and trying to get out, the affidavit says. When police showed the video to Boone, she pushed it away halfway through and said she didn’t want to watch it, the affidavit says.

Police searched her iPhone after she signed a waiver and gave verbal and written consent. CNN has reached out to her public defender.

Boone denied intentionally leaving Torres in the suitcase, according to the affidavit.

Boone called police Monday afternoon and said she woke up hours earlier but assumed her boyfriend was on his computer in another room. When she could not find him, she suddenly realized he was still in the suitcase.

“Sarah unzipped the suitcase and found Jorge unresponsive and not breathing,” the affidavit says. “Sarah zipped Jorge in the suitcase to where he could not get out. Jorge begged Sarah repeatedly telling her he could not breathe and Sarah left him in the suitcase … and demonstrated a depraved mind without regard for Jorge’s life.”

When police arrived at the scene, they found the victim near the front door with a laceration on his lip and bruising around his eye.

Boone is being held without bail. No cause of death is listed on the arrest affidavit.

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