Rudy Giuliani, whose actions as President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer have helped set in motion an impeachment inquiry, abruptly canceled his scheduled paid appearance at a Kremlin-backed conference in Armenia next week.
Giuliani, who confirmed to The Washington Post on Friday morning that he would attend the event, reversed himself that evening after The Post reported on his participation in the meeting, which Russian President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials are expected to attend.
The two-day conference is sponsored by Russia and the Moscow-based Eurasian Economic Union, a trade alliance launched by Putin in 2014 as a counterweight to the European Union.
According to an agenda for the event posted online, Giuliani was set to participate in a panel led by Sergey Glazyev, a longtime Putin adviser who has been under U.S. sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine five years ago.
Giuliani said Friday evening that he was no longer planning to attend the meeting. “I didn’t know Putin was going,” he said in a brief interview, adding in a text: “Discretion is the better part of valor.”
Giuliani’s decision to take part in the conference astounded national security experts. His appearance would have come days after the release of a whistleblower complaint accusing Trump and Giuliani of pressuring Ukrainian officials for damaging information about Democrats.
Trump this summer withheld military aid from Ukraine, which counts on U.S. support to help fend off pro-Moscow separatists in the country’s eastern provinces. As part of his efforts in Ukraine, Giuliani has said the focus on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election has overlooked what he claims was meddling by Kiev.
The agenda for the Eurasian conference showed Giuliani was the only American scheduled to speak at the gathering.
In an interview Friday before canceling his plans, Giuliani angrily rejected questions about whether it would be appropriate for him to attend the event at which he also appeared last year.
“I will try to not knowingly talk to a Russian until this is all over,” he retorted.
The former New York mayor confirmed in the interview that he intended to accept payment for his appearance but declined to say how much he would receive or which group or person was going to pay him.
“It goes to my company,” Giuliani said.
The White House and State Department declined to comment.
Current and former White House aides said there is internal exasperation with Giuliani’s behavior and the fact that he does not clear his media appearances or paid speeches with the administration. Giuliani has said he works for the president in a personal capacity and does not take a salary from the government or the president.
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