Washington — President Trump says his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is defending him and the country against the “hoax” of impeachment “out of love,” describing the former New York City mayor and key player in the Ukraine controversy that launched impeachment as one of the greatest-ever crime fighters.

Mr. Trump made the comments during a roundtable on regulatory reforms at the White House with governors from across the country on Monday.

Asked if he knows what Giuliani learned on a trip earlier this month to Ukraine, the president said he didn’t know much, before defending his own attorney. In the past, Giuliani has said he’s representing Mr. Trump for free, and as recently as earlier this month visited Ukraine to build his case that Ukraine attempted to meddle in the 2016 election.

“He was probably the greatest crime fighter over the last 50 years, very smart,” Mr. Trump said of Giuliani.

“He was the best mayor in the history of the city of New York. He’s a great person who loves our country,” Mr. Trump told CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid. “And he does this out of love, believe me, he does it out of love. He sees what goes on, he sees what’s happening. He sees all of the hoax that happens when they talk about impeachment hoax, or the Russian collusion delusion.”

His comments come after The New Yorker published a story that included an interview with Giuliani in which he said it was imperative to get rid of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in the spring in order to pursue investigations.

“I believed that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way,” Giuliani told the magazine. “She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody.”

The White House is trying to show Mr. Trump is making progress on agenda items, as Democrats are poised to likely impeach him later this week. Mr. Trump, however, has been focused impeachment, if his Twitter account is any indication. The president spent some of the weekend and Monday morning tweeting and retweeting comments in his defense, including one account that promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The House is expected to vote on impeachment Wednesday, with a Senate trial slated after the holidays. Mr. Trump has suggested he wants a showy trial, with lots of witnesses, including the Bidens and the whistleblower, but Senate Republicans want the process to be swift. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he’s already made up his mind on impeachment, and he’s “not trying to pretend to be a fair juror.”

“I think this whole thing is a crock,” Graham told “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “You’re shutting the president out. The process in the House, any partisan group could do this in the future. You’re weaponizing impeachment. And I want to end it. I don’t want to legitimize it. I hate what they’re doing.”

More about: