WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump sought Friday to distance himself from attorney Rudy Giuliani, even casting doubts about whether the former New York mayor is still his lawyer.
Asked whether Giuliani remained his personal attorney, Trump said: "I don't know."
"I haven't spoken to Rudy," Trump told reporters as he was leaving the White House for a political rally in Louisiana. "I spoke to him yesterday, briefly. He's a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yeah sure."
Giuliani told USA TODAY shortly afterward that he's still Trump's lawyer. "He hasn't told me otherwise," he said.
Giuliani has emerged as a central figure in the Ukraine scandal that has led to an impeachment inquiry against Trump over efforts to push Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential frontrunner.
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Trump's remarks followed the arrest late Wednesday of two of Giuliani's associates, Ukranian-born business partners Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, at Dulles International Airport. The two were arrested by FBI agents and charged with in connection with alleged schemes to funnel foreign money to U.S. political campaigns.
Prosecutors say Parnas and Fruman helped Giuliani meet a Ukrainian prosecutor in the effort to gather dirt on Biden and his son Hunter, who once had business interests in Ukraine. Federal officials said Parnas and Fruman were arrested as they prepared to board an international flight with one-way tickets.
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On Thursday, shortly after the arrests were announced, Trump denied knowing the two Ukrainian business partners, dismissing a photograph that showed him with one of the men at the White House.
Giuliani said he doesn't know if people in Trump's orbit are trying to get him removed.
"If he wants to get rid of me, he can get rid of me - he's the client," Giuliani told USA TODAY. "I don't know of any reason that he would."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Rudy Giuliani: Donald Trump won't say if mayor is still his attorney