The personal attorney for Donald Trump is flying to Ukraine, where he is pressuring the top law enforcement officers and incoming president of that nation to open investigations that will help Trump in the 2020 election. If that sounds like an extraordinary act that’s neither moral nor legal … no, it’s fine. It’s fine because Giuliani says it’s fine.
Giuliani: We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do. … There’s nothing illegal about it. Somebody could say it’s improper. And this isn’t foreign policy—I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.
There’s really no need to even restate that, but … Rudy Giuliani is “meddling in an investigation” because “that information will be very, very helpful to my client.” His client being Donald Trump. And the “helpful” part being Giuliani’s hope that the investigation will 1) help them generate a scandal that can be used to damage Joe Biden in the 2020 election, and 2) give them information that can be used to cast doubt on the report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
Now that Donald Trump has seen that he can accept the help of a foreign government in an election and suffer no consequences, he’s not stopping with simply failing to secure the next election against interference. He’s actively, openly, flagrantly soliciting the participation of a foreign government that is dependent on U.S. assistance for its continued existence. Unable to get America’s intelligence service to provide them with the false narrative they desire, Trump and Giuliani are going around the world to see if they can buy the story they need, by extorting it out of a government that knows it could literally live or die by Trump’s displeasure.
And the one thing that doesn’t get said in the entire discussion about the supposed “scandal” is that the whole thing is backwards. Nothing that Joe Biden did in Ukraine in any way benefited him or his family.
The story from Giuliani is that Joe Biden went to Ukraine in 2016 and demanded that a prosecutor be fired because that prosecutor was investigating a man, and that man was the biggest stockholder in a holding company, and Joe Biden’s son Hunter was on the board of that company. But in real life, the prosecutor was not conducting an investigation. It was exactly the fact that he was not only refusing to investigate, but also refusing to cooperate with an investigation by the U.K. into the company that generated calls for his replacement. The prosecutor wasn’t replaced, but he was voted out at the next election. A new prosecutor came in, did conduct an investigation, and found no crime. The case was closed. Hunter Biden has since left the board of the company.
But Giuliani is pushing for the case to be reopened. Not because he has the slightest concern about the truth of the situation—neither Trump nor the United States has any interest the outcome. But Trump could benefit if Giuliani is able to create the impression that Biden did something wrong to help his son. That’s the entire purpose of Giuliani’s trip: not to discover any facts, but to create the impression of problems. He doesn’t need, or even want, answers. He just wants the investigation, so that throughout the campaign period, Trump and every Trump surrogate can point to it as if Biden is in some mysterious trouble.
The second purpose of Giuliani’s trip is to “discredit the special counsel’s investigation” and “undermine the case against Paul Manafort.” The gist of those allegations seems to be that Ukrainian officials paid too much attention to Manafort’s crimes during the 2015-2016 period, allowing Hillary Clinton to benefit because other people could see that Trump’s campaign manager was a notorious international criminal and supporter of Russian intervention. Except that … Paul Manafort is a notorious international criminal, a supporter of Russian intervention, and the guy who met with Russian operatives during the campaign to hand over private polling data in the hope of assisting Russia’s plan to help Trump.
This whole scheme has been so thin that the prosecutor who Giuliani claimed he had talked into looking into these Q-level theories is about to be replaced. Now it’s up to Giuliani to see if he can get the new Ukrainian president and a new prosecutor to play the game. It’s none too clear that he will be successful. No matter how much Ukraine would like to have more U.S. assistance against the ongoing Russian invasion, incoming president Volodymyr Zelensky ran on a platform “to bring professional, decent people to power,” of supporting the European Union, and of bringing Ukraine into NATO. He may be less than anxious to help someone who has undermined all those things.
But there’s really a third scandal here. That scandal is the relationship between Rudy Giuliani and The New York Times. The Times gleefully published this story, noting that Giuliani’s trip to Ukraine had been “previously unreported.” There could be a reason for that: because it seems likely that no other major media outlet would provide Giuliani with a place to spew his asinine legal theories at length and unchallenged. When Giuliani says there’s nothing wrong with his using his position as Trump’s personal attorney to influence legal proceedings in a country heavily dependent on U.S. military aid … there’s not even a weak-kneed metaphor for lie. Not even the most milquetoast challenge. It’s simply allowed to stand. In earlier reporting, Giuliani stated that the investigations were active, and the Times dutifully reported the same. But Bloomberg, which actually checked, immediately found that there was no such investigation.
As it has been the case so many times in the past, The New York Times is acting as Giuliani’s partner in this plan, providing him with a nationwide platform for a scheme that’s openly, brazenly dishonest, shameless, and counter to the good of the nation. Whether it’s claims that the entire FBI secretly believes that Hillary Clinton should be arrested or assertions that the Trump campaign had no connections to Russia, there is nothing Rudy Giuliani says that the Times is not willing to turn into a headline.