Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's lawyer and former mayor of New York, second left. Picture: AL DRAGO/BLOOMBERG
Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump's lawyer and former mayor of New York, second left. Picture: AL DRAGO/BLOOMBERG

Washington  —  Rudy Giuliani will not cooperate with the Trump-Ukraine impeachment inquiry, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Tuesday was the deadline for Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, to hand in documents relating to Ukraine. 

"This appears to be an unconstitutional, baseless, and illegitimate 'impeachment inquiry,'" Guiliani's lawyer, Jon Sale, told the House of Representatives intelligence committee in a letter.

Information being sought relating to Giuliani's work in Ukraine is protected by attorney-client privilege and other privileges, the letter said.

"In addition, the subpoena is overbroad, unduly burdensome, and seeks documents beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry," Sale wrote.

Reports on Tuesday said the US budget office has also refused  to comply with a subpoena for documents. The  documents related to a  delay in military funds to Ukraine. 

Earlier US lawmakers heard closed-door testimony from  senior US diplomat George Kent.

Kent appeared despite being ordered by the White House and the state department not to cooperate with the probe. He was served with a subpoena  on Tuesday morning.

Democrats are examining whether there are grounds to impeach Trump for asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in a July 25 phone call to look into unsubstantiated allegations about political rival Joe Biden.

The former vice-president is a leading contender in the Democratic nominating contest to run against Republican Trump in the November 2020 US presidential election.

Kent, who has spent much of his career fighting corruption in Ukraine and elsewhere, is the second career diplomat to testify as part of the probe after being subpoenaed. The White House and state department ordered them not to appear.

It was unclear what Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for US policy towards six former Soviet republics including Ukraine, told lawmakers.

Kent's concerns

According to the New York Times, Kent raised concerns with colleagues as far back as March about Giuliani pressuring Ukraine to pursue investigations into Trump's political rivals.

Lawmakers have already heard unsettling accounts from other US officials.

Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, on Friday accused the Trump administration of recalling her in May based on false claims.

Fiona Hill, Trump's former Russia adviser, told lawmakers on Monday that she and her then-boss, former national security adviser John Bolton, were alarmed by efforts to force Ukraine to investigate Biden and other rivals and advised her to notify a national security council lawyer, according to a source familiar with her testimony.

Hill told lawmakers that Bolton characterised Giuliani as "a hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up", according to two sources familiar with her testimony. A Bolton spokeswoman said he would have no comment on the testimony.

Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, faced a Tuesday deadline to produce documents related to the Ukraine matter.

Democratic Representative Jackie Speier, a member of the Intelligence and Oversight committees, told MSNBC that House Democrats would likely move to hold Giuliani in contempt if he does not cooperate.

Gordon Sondland, the US ambassador to the European Union who was involved in the Ukraine discussions, is due to testify later in the week in response to a congressional subpoena.

Hunter Biden

The investigation is focused on the July call in which Trump pressed Zelenskiy to have Ukraine officials investigate Biden and his businessman son, Hunter Biden, who had been on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

Hunter Biden, 49, denied doing anything improper  in past work for the company but acknowledged that he had benefited professionally from his father's political career in an interview with ABC News that aired on Tuesday. Joe Biden has rejected Trump's allegations of corruption.

Democrats have accused Trump of pressuring a vulnerable US ally to dig up dirt on Biden after withholding $391m in US security aid intended to help combat Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine. Zelenskiy agreed to investigate. Trump eventually allowed the aid.

Trump has denied wrongdoing and defended his request to Zelenskiy during the phone call, the contents of which was revealed by a whistle-blower.

According to state department e–mails seen by Reuters, diplomat Kent told colleagues that Yovanovitch had become the target of a "classic disinformation operation".

Yovanovitch on Friday denied Giuliani's allegations that she provided a "do not prosecute list" to Ukrainian officials to protect Biden and others.

"One key sign of it being fake is that most of the names are misspelled in English — we would never spell most that way," Kent said in the e–mail to colleagues.

Kent, who majored in Russian language and literature at Harvard, has held several jobs requiring him to grapple with corruption in Ukraine, which ranks 120th of 180 nations in a Transparency International corruption perceptions index.

Reuters