Word came late last evening that Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer and a key figure in the whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s interactions with the Ukraine, is now under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. The investigation, reportedly examining whether Giuliani broke lobbying laws, is associated with the case under which two of Giuliani’s associates, Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas, were arrested this week on charges of campaign finance violations.
Reportedly the investigation is also examining allegations that Giuliani attempted to undermine Marie Yovanovitch, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, when she would not go along with Trump’s agenda on getting the Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden. Yovanovitch was indeed removed as ambassador this spring, although she still works for the State Department. Perhaps not coincidentally, Yovanovitch gave closed-door testimony just yesterday before the House committees involved in the impeachment probe. Yovanovitch was willing to testify voluntarily, but a subpoena was issues for her testimony, in part to counter the expected White House order that she not testify, which indeed is what happened. Other Trump administration officials have gone so far as to disobey even a subpoena, but Yovanovitch complied. So, given the timing, one wonders if the reportedly scathing testimony of Yovanovitch yesterday augments the case against Giuliani. According to The Hill:
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are reportedly investigating whether President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani’s dealing with Ukraine broke lobbying laws. Two people familiar with the probe told The New York Times that prosecutors are investigating Giuliani’s efforts to undercut Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was ultimately recalled in the spring as Trump sought to pressure Kiev into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a chief political rival. The investigation into Giuliani is affiliated with the case against two of his associates who were detained this week on allegedly violating campaign finance laws. The Ukraine-born businessmen, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were charged with sending illicit contributions to a congressman who they hoped would help remove Yovanovitch.
Not surprisingly, President Trump has viewed this news as further evidence of a “Deep State” conspiracy, with Trump this morning tweeting, “So now they are after the legendary ‘crime buster’ and greatest Mayor in the history of NYC, Rudy Giuliani. He may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and wonderful lawyer. Such a one sided Witch Hunt going on in USA. Deep State. Shameful!”. Trump, rather than relying on facts, has instead leaned on conspiracy theories and repeated expressions of his opinion that his telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was “perfect”, along with stonewalling on requests for documents and testimony, in an effort to defend himself. That stonewalling, however, is evidence of congressional obstruction, as has been noted by the House committees involved in the impeachment inquiry, and obstruction itself is an impeachable offense. So Trump may actually be making his situation worse through these efforts at obstruction.