Revelations about Giuliani’s mission are piling up as the Democratic impeachment push races ahead. A critical new stage of the inquiry opens next week with public hearings where the absent Giuliani’s name is sure to be on everyone’s lips.
Pages of newly released witness testimony appear to be cementing the Democratic case that Trump abused his power by seeking political favors from Ukraine. The President, however, insists he did nothing wrong and is dismissing the latest revelations.
Evidence of Giuliani’s intimate involvement in the Ukraine scheme turns the focus on why the President was apparently so keen to bypass accredited US diplomats and senior officials.
And on a day when Giuliani announced his own high powered legal defense team, speculation is growing about his own legal exposure and how the scandal will stain his own legacy.
“Even someone like Rudy Giuliani who at one point was a pretty significantly good lawyer realizes you need outside counsel,” said CNN legal analyst Preet Bharara, who like Giuliani is a former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, on CNN’s “Situation Room.”
“I don’t know that he is in true criminal jeopardy, but at a minimum when people are beginning to investigate you … you want to have able counsel at your side,” he said.
The torrent of revelations about Giuliani will mean that Trump’s attitude and mood regarding his lawyer and most vociferous cable television defender need to be closely watched.
If the President begins to create some distance between them, Giuliani wouldn’t be the first Trump lawyer to face carrying the can for his client’s alleged wrongdoing — as former Trump attorney Michael Cohen well knows.
Most fundamentally, the flurry of disclosures about Giuliani poses the question of whether Congress will ever get to the bottom of what happening in Ukraine without his testimony.
Giuliani has said in the past that he would like to testify. But it seems unlikely he has much to gain by doing so. But any attempt to avoid an appearance based on attorney-client privilege or executive privilege would be a tough legal sell given his non-official role and ramblings into Europe — well beyond the confines of a relationship with Trump.
He might also exercise his right to avoid self-incrimination given the current criminal and counter-intelligence investigation into his business dealings in Ukraine.
Giuliani rejected the idea that he was enriching himself abroad through his associations with the President in a conversation with CNN Investigative Reporter Drew Griffin.
“I am in private law practice. I practice law honorably and well. Never had a complaint. Never had an issue ever in 50 years of private law practice,” he said.
Trump has defended Giuliani in recent weeks, but the President does have a history of minimizing his relationship with former associates when they get into trouble. There’s also a possibility that his lawyer could become a useful scapegoat.
As recently as last month, however, Trump was standing by his fellow New Yorker.
“He’s a great gentleman. He was a great mayor, one of the greatest, maybe the greatest mayor in the history of New York,” Trump said. “He’s a man that looks for corruption … I know he’s an honorable man.”