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‘I wish he would shut the heck up’: Republicans sour on Giuliani

Sen. John Kennedy said Rudy Giuliani is as “wild as a March hare.” | Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

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Even some of president’s closest Hill allies say Giuliani isn’t helping the president.

Republicans had enough headaches to deal with this week. Then Hurricane Rudy blew into town.

As the GOP scrambles to contain the fallout from President Donald Trump’s Ukraine controversy, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has inserted himself directly into the center of a crisis that has engulfed the White House and brought impeachment closer to Trump’s doorstep. And Republicans want him to stop.

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I have great respect for Mr. Giuliani, but I said this yesterday and take it for what it’s worth: He’s wild as a March hare,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.). “He’s like a lot of senators, he’s kind of a free range chicken, he kind of gets out there. What he says is his business, I don’t speak for him.”

Others put it more bluntly.

“I think it would be a good thing if he would go take a vacation,” a senior GOP lawmaker told POLITICO, one of several who declined to go on the record so they could speak critically of Giuliani.

Even some of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill don’t think Giuliani is doing the president or the party any favors by being such a constant presence in the media.

“Rudy’s saying a lot of things and I’m not sure he’s helping the president by being on TV every 15 minutes,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters this week.

Giuliani, however, isn’t shying away from the spotlight. Instead, he’s given a string of combative, and at times bizarre, TV appearances. In one interview, he denied that he asked Ukraine to probe the Biden family, only to admit 30 seconds later that he did.

And in another exchange, Giuliani even held up his cellphone to show alleged text messages from State Department officials in an attempt to prove that he wasn’t operating on his own.

The public displays — while exactly the kind of fire-eating performances that Trump relishes from his allies — have sparked some serious groans from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“I wish he would shut the heck up,” said a Republican lawmaker who declined to speak on the record.

But beyond just annoying Republicans, lawmakers are raising serious questions and concerns about Giuliani’s role in the Ukraine episode — and they want answers.

Democrats, who are considering hauling him in to testify, have already demanded documents from the State Department and the White House related to Giuliani’s interactions with Ukraine.

And Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, said on CNN on Friday that it’s a “fair question” for Congress to ask about Giuliani’s involvement.

Giuliani has spent months publicly calling for Ukraine to investigate whether former Vice President Joe Biden — a potential political rival to Trump — pushed for the removal of a Ukrainian prosecutor in order to help his son, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

And as the Trump administration held up $ 250 million in foreign aid to Ukraine, Giuliani met with an aide to Ukraine’s president in August, raising questions about who asked him to do so and whether that was an appropriate move for the president’s personal lawyer.

“I am curious about what his role is. Why has he been a big player on this issue with Ukraine?” said the senior Republican lawmaker. “To me, the president has every right to work with Ukrainian leadership [on corruption]. But I’m not sure where Rudy Giuliani fits into that.”

Giuliani, however, maintains that the State Department directed him to meet with Ukrainian officials — and he even called on them to admit it. “They basically knew everything I was doing,” Giuliani told Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump confidant, said it would have been appropriate for Giuliani to notify the State Department if he were visiting Ukraine. But, he added, “investigating things that are not in defense of the president would be the role of the [attorney general], not a private attorney.”

While a whistleblower complaint released this week detailing Trump’s communications with Ukraine have made some Republicans uneasy, they have largely stood by the president. But they don’t appear to have the same loyalty to Giuliani.

“There are a number of people concerned with whether Rudy is representing the president effectively,” said the GOP lawmaker.

Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.

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