Investigations leave Rudy Giuliani in the hot seat

Updated

Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s testimony in the impeachment proceedings clearly didn’t do Rudy Giuliani any favors. As NBC News’ report noted yesterday, Sondland left little doubt that it was the former mayor who played “a signature role in orchestrating” Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme.

Around the same time, the New York Times published this report on federal prosecutors having issued subpoenas in recent weeks to players in Trump’s fundraising apparatus as part of an investigation into Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two prominent Giuliani associates.

The recent activity by prosecutors and F.B.I. agents shows that they have cast a wide net as they collect evidence about Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, who were arrested last month. It also comes as the same prosecutors look into whether Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, violated a federal lobbying law in some of his dealings with Ukrainians.

Mr. Giuliani and one of his companies were mentioned by name in one of the subpoenas, which was issued to a businessman who was approached by Mr. Parnas seeking an investment.

He was trying to finance a portion of a $500,000 payment he had promised to Mr. Giuliani to consult for a company he helped found, Fraud Guarantee, according to a person familiar with the solicitation of the businessman. The businessman never provided the money.

This reporting came the day after the Associated Press reported that federal prosecutors are moving forward with plans to interview “an executive with Ukraine’s state-owned gas company” as part the investigation into the business dealings of Giuliani, Parnas, and Fruman.

The executive in question is Andrew Favorov, the director of the integrated gas division at Naftogaz. His lawyer confirmed to the AP that he’s scheduled to meet voluntarily with the U.S. Justice Department.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported late last week that federal prosecutors are investigating whether Giuliani “stood to profit personally from a Ukrainian natural-gas business pushed by two associates who also aided his efforts there to launch investigations” to benefit Donald Trump.”

The report, which hasn’t been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, added that Parnas and Fruman “pitched their new company, and plans for a Poland-to-Ukraine pipeline carrying U.S. natural gas, in meetings with Ukrainian officials and energy executives this year, saying the project had the support of the Trump administration.” If the WSJ is correct, prosecutors are examining whether Giuliani may have been positioned to benefit financially from Parnas’ and Fruman’s endeavor.

The same day, Bloomberg News ran a related report, which also hasn’t been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, adding that Giuliani is also being investigated by federal prosecutors “for possible campaign finance violations and a failure to register as a foreign agent.”

It was five weeks ago when Rudy Giuliani, having dismissed his personal attorney, declared on Twitter, “At this time, I do not need a lawyer.” From his perspective, it’s probably a good thing that he soon after changed his mind.