Rick Perry informed Donald Trump Thursday that he will be stepping down from his post as Energy secretary.
He sent a written notification to the president as Trump was traveling aboard Air Force One, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, but his departure date is unclear.
The news come just 10 days after Perry, who has been with Trump since March 2017, denied that he was planning to resign his position in the immediate future.
Perry has found himself at the center of the Ukraine scandal engulfing the presidency after he became one of the top liaisons between Trump and his new Ukrainian counterpart.
The former Texas governor announced earlier this month he was staying with the administration despite the controversy, although he did not rule out leaving at a later date.
Rick Perry said Donald Trump told him to ‘talk to Rudy’ Giuliani about his concerns regarding Ukrainian corruption before he would agree to a sit down with his new counterpart
‘They’ve been writing the story for at least nine months now,’ he said at the time of the media and his rumored departure. ‘One of these days they will probably get it right, but it’s not today, it’s not tomorrow, it’s not next month,’ Perry said while traveling in Lithuania.
Politico had reported last week that he was planning to resign at the end of November, citing three anonymous sources.
His departure will add to the extensive and ever-growing list of Trump administration officials who have left the White House.
Perry revealed in an interview published Wednesday night that he was directed by Trump to approach Rudy Giuliani to address the president’s concerns about corruption in Ukraine.
He told The Wall Street Journal that he contacted Giuliani in the spring to help clear the way for a meeting between the president and his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart.
Although Perry admitted that during his phone call earlier this year Giuliani outlined several potential instances of interference by Ukraine in the 2016 presidential elections, he said the president’s personal attorney never brought up Joe Biden or his family.
He also said he didn’t hear Trump, any of his appointees or the Ukrainian government ever mention probing the former vice president and his son, Hunter Biden’s business dealings there.
‘As I recall the conversation, he said, ‘Look, the president is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,’ Perry said. ”He thinks they’re corrupt and…that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.”
Perry said Giuliani didn’t make any explicit demands on the call.
‘Rudy didn’t say they gotta do X, Y and Z,’ Perry continued in his interview. ‘He just said, ‘You want to know why he ain’t comfortable about letting this guy come in? Here’s the reason.’
The House opened an impeachment inquiry into the president following revelations of a July 25 phone call where Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on his political rival.
Democrats allege the president set a quid pro quo in freezing millions in military aid in exchange for the Ukrainian regime’s investigation into the Bidens.
Perry’s talks and coordination with Giuliani show the widespread reach of the president’s attorney’s involvement in foreign policy. Giuliani is currently being investigation for potential foreign lobbying violations.
Giuliani confirmed his call with Perry and said he was telling the president’s energy secretary to be careful in dealing with Zelensky, who took office in May.
‘Everything I said there I probably said on television 50 times,’ Giuliani told the Journal.
The former New York City Republican mayor has accused Ukraine, under then-President Petro Poroshenko, of interfering in the U.S. elections on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.
Since Zelensky was elected, U.S. officials have been attempting to facilitate a meeting between and his new Ukrainian counterpart.
Perry and Giuliani’s call followed a White House meeting, which included Perry and then-U.S. envoy for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker, who resigned last month after revelations of Trump’s call with Zelensky.
In the meeting, Trump’s advisers urged him to meet with Zelensky, but people familiar with the matter said the president told them they needed to resolve Giuliani’s concerns before he would agree to the meeting.
‘Visit with Rudy,’ Perry said the president told him at the time.
Perry has been one of the administration’s top liaisons with the new Ukrainian president, which has put him under intense scrutiny as the president faces impeachment proceedings into whether he abused his power as president to dig up dirt on Biden.
Trump claims his call with Zelensky this summer was ‘perfect,’ and insists it was an attempt to help weed out corruption from the European nation. He also claims he has a duty, as president, to stop corruption, including from the Bidens.
Hunter Biden accepted a board position with Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2014 – while his father was still serving as Obama’s vice president. He reportedly was paid $50,000 per month in his post at Burisma.
Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, is being investigated in relation to his role in U.S.-Ukraine relations – especially his claims of corruption and election interference by the previous administration there
Perry has acted as a top liaison between Trump and the new Ukrainian administration since Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky took office in May. Trump and Perry have a generally good rapport, which has helped the Energy secretary steer clear of problems other officials have run into with the president
The attorney and lobbyist stepped down from Burisma’s board earlier this year and also announced over the weekend he was leaving his position on the board of a Chinese-backed equity firm where he made millions.
Perry said Trump has dismissed his requests to meet with Zelensky in an effort to show U.S. support for the new administration – which Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry, said is another potential of a quid pro quo.
Schiff said if Trump were to set an investigation into the Bidens as a condition for meeting with Zelensky, it could be another instance of him using his presidency to attempt to better his chances in 2020.
Perry revealed that Giuliani was also in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.