Lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a press conference after appearing in court to call for the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against video game giant Activision in Los Angeles, Calif., Oct. 16, 2014.
Photo by Damian Dovarganes/AP

Perhaps Giuliani should stop trying to ‘help’ his Oval Office client

The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/5/19, 9:27 PM ET

Trump team still stoking Ukraine story despite US intel warning

Rachel Maddow reports on Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani still working with dubious characters in Ukraine in pursuit of a story that U.S. intelligence has already explained is a work of Russian disinformation.
Despite the reported criminal investigation into him, Rudy Giuliani thought it’d be a good idea to travel to eastern Europe this week, as part of an ongoing effort to help Donald Trump, dig up damaging revelations about Joe Biden, and pursue imagined evidence that Russia didn’t attack our elections in 2016.

In fact, as Rachel noted on the show last night, it was just a couple of days ago when Giuliani met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor linked to Russian intelligence, whom Giuliani is relying on for dubious anti-Biden dirt.

Trump’s lawyer briefly interrupted his trip yesterday to publish a couple of tweets, making the case that the impeachment effort against his client is a “farce.” To bolster the assertion, Giuliani insisted that the Trump administration did not withhold military aid to Ukraine – a bizarre claim, since the president has already acknowledged the opposite.

The former mayor added:

“The conversation about corruption in Ukraine was based on compelling evidence of criminal conduct by then VP Biden, in 2016, that has not been resolved and until it is will be a major obstacle to the US assisting Ukraine with its anti-corruption reforms.

“The American people will learn that Biden & other Obama administration officials, contributed to the increased level of corruption in Ukraine between 2014 to 2016. This evidence will all be released very soon.”

Those waiting for actual “evidence” should probably lower their expectations, but that’s not what made Giuliani’s missives interesting.

It was earlier this week when Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a “report” – I’m using the word loosely – making the case that Trump is actually innocent, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. The GOP lawmakers conceded that the American president may have pressed his Ukrainian counterpart, but according to the panel’s Republican members, Trump was motivated solely by his sincere and deeply held concerns about corruption in Kyiv, not digging up dirt on a domestic political rival.

As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent explained a few days ago, the argument is impossible to take seriously, though I think Giuliani just made matters quite a bit worse.

Indeed, whether he intended to or not, Giuliani seems to have confirmed what Democrats have argued for months – that Trump’s occasional references to “corruption” were really just euphemisms for dirt on Biden – while simultaneously making the case he still expects Ukraine to go after Biden.

If officials in Kyiv balk, the lawyer’s tweet added, their failure to “resolve” the matter “will be a major obstacle to the US assisting Ukraine.”

New York’s Jon Chait seemed a little gobsmacked by Giuliani’s willingness to put all of this in writing.

Giuliani is saying out loud that corruption (1) specifically means Joe Biden, and (2) Ukraine must satisfy Giuliani and Trump by investigating it in order to get “assistance” from the United States. He is literally tweeting out the quid pro quo.

And lest there be any ambiguity as to whether Giuliani is speaking on Trump’s behalf, he has dispelled it. Giuliani called his trip “work being done by a lawyer defending his client” to the Daily Beast, and tells the right-wing news network OANN: “The president of the United States, I can tell you this, is asking for this.”

It’s hard not to wonder whether the American president realizes he’d probably be better off without Giuliani’s “help.”